Morecambe MP says Eden Project North could be 'jewel in the crown' of north west as he asks for government's £70m support
Morecambe MP David Morris has urged the government to show commitment to its 'levelling up' promise by backing the Eden Project North scheme with £70m funding.
Mr Morris was speaking during a parliamentary debate today, Wednesday, which he secured to discuss the economic benefits of the scheme.
And he said he wanted the government to "put its money where its mouth is" by supporting the Eden Project - a proposal he said would "bring hope back to Morecambe".
"We are all painfully aware of the decline of coastal resorts," he said. "They have been neglected for too long.
"What's required is investment into deprived areas.
"This is a project that can really change a region, and give back hope in an area that really needs it."
Mr Morris pointed to the investment already put in by Eden bosses as a statement of intent, but said government money is still needed to push the scheme through.
A government investment of £70m would make Eden Project North viable and able to open within three years, he said.
He pointed to the original Eden Project in Cornwall bringing in an estimated £2.2bn to the local economy each year.
And he said: "In Lancashire we need this jewel in the crown of the north west to shine.
"Jobs will be created and investment in Eden Project is an investment in young people too. Morecambe would be a beacon of regeneration. It's designed to be a catalyst for investment.
"The local community is behind this project and it's time for the government to put faith in this project too.
"Eden Project North has the potential to be the key provider of post-Covid recovery for the north west, and it is a true embodiment of the government's 'levelling up' aspirations.
"It's precisely the type of project that's suitable for government investment."
Mr Morris said he hoped to see a reassurance that the people of the north west - particularly Morecambe - will not be forgotten.
"It's time for the government to put it's money where its mouth is by helping my community to build for future generations," he said.
Bury North MP James Daly supported Mr Morris in his speech, saying his constituents would "flock to Morecambe" to see the Eden attraction.
"We are all together in the north west," he said. "This project benefits us all."
Eden bosses hope the scheme will go before Lancaster City Council's planning committee in December.
If all goes to plan, the official opening of the attraction is scheduled for summer 2024.
And the team has promised that Eden North will transform Morecambe into a "21st Century seaside town" by acting as a stimulus to drive further investment.
CEO David Harland said they will continue to lobby government in terms of suitable grant funding.
And he said there would be "economic, social and environmental enhancement" to the area.
The use of local business people and working in conjunction with local businesses moving forward was reiterated, with up to 400 jobs set to be created.
"We will be looking to only buy locally, and there will be jobs within the local area," Mr Harland said. "We hope that by creating this location it will encourage others to come in and invest in the area.
"That's how you really drive economic activity. Eden can act as a stimulus to the area."
Around one million visitors are expected to visit the site every year and visitor spend outside of Eden Project North in the local economy is estimated at more than £200m per year, supporting an additional 1,500 jobs.