Friday, 27 November 2015

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Use lottery win for greener jobs

Imagine you won the lottery and had a cool £78 million to blow. What would be first on your shopping list? Yacht? Car? New home? Swish holiday?

Hydro electricity photo
Hydro-electricity could make county money

What would you do for Cumbria? Your district or neighbourhood?

The county has been handed more than £78m of European money for us to spend as we like.

It has been allocated to the Cumbria Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) for the next funding period which runs from 2014 to 2020.

The Government’s business secretary Vince Cable says the new money is a “new source of finance to stimulate local growth and jobs”.

While it is brilliant news to get such a major grant, this money has to be matched by private companies and regional support.

And, according to rules and regulations, it has to go to small and medium-sized enterprises and it has to be used to create new and sustainable jobs.

The Cumbria LEP has already earmarked certain sectors of Cumbria’s economy for boosting – food and drink, energy, tourism and specialised manufacturing.

And while I appreciate certain well-worn, proven and justified paths have to be followed, isn’t this an opportunity to look further afield?

Me, I’d like to see the money used to make us self-sufficient in power – in developing turbines that could be used to convert the power of our rivers into electricity.

Jobs could be created in the manufacturing, development and placement of the turbines.

We could then “export” this technology across the UK and into Europe.

And how about developing the geothermal energy lying underneath this once volcanic county?

Geology experts drilled down more than a mile beneath Newcastle and discovered limitless supplies of hot water that could be used for heating the city and to generate energy for it.

The boffins reckon these reserves – or reservoirs – stretch right across the county.

Wouldn’t it pay to link in with a private developer?

Generating our own, green energy could be worth so much more than £78 million.


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