Eden Project North and Lake District National Park can create new green tourism economy, Morecambe Bay leaders say
The leaders of three councils bordering Morecambe Bay have joined calls for the government to fund proposals for Eden Project North in Wednesday's Budget.
A bid for £70 million has been submitted by the Eden Project to the Government for the scheme, which would be built on the site of the old Bubbles swimming pool on Morecambe promenade.
Councillors Erica Lewis, Giles Archibald and Ann Thomson, leaders of the district councils in Lancaster, South Lakeland and Barrow, have now urged Chancellor Rishi Sunak to also commit his support to the project in his Budget on Wednesday, March 3.
The three authorities are working together to develop the Morecambe Bay Cultural Compact, which seeks to develop different cultural assets to boost future creativity, investment, innovation, jobs and prosperity in the area.
Along with the Lake District World Heritage Site, Eden North is seen as a key component of this plan and its aim of embedding culture at the heart of the community.
The three Leaders have also worked together on proposals to create a new unitary authority that would replace their existing district councils, along with the county councils (Lancashire and Cumbria), with a new, single tier ‘unitary’ local authority for the area.
At the heart of the bid is a desire to tackle the climate emergency and increase investment to create a greener and more sustainable tourism economy.
As a sustainable visitor destination, the three Leaders believe Eden North fits perfectly into this vision, which would also help to create research opportunities, new skills relevant to the area, and be a key activity in supporting current and future workforce development.
They also believe Eden North would benefit from the proposals for the new unitary authority as it would then be based in a local authority area that also covers the Lake District, with the two complementing each other as destinations and the potential for an interplay of visitors.
Councillor Dr Erica Lewis, leader of Lancaster City Council, said: “In both the proposals for Eden Project North and our own for a new unitary authority, along with work that is progressing on the Cultural Compact, we have the opportunity to deliver considerable social, economic benefits and environmental benefits for the whole of Morecambe Bay.
“These proposals complement each other perfectly and together provide the potential to create a new economy which puts sustainable and greener tourism at its heart.
“I now hope that the Government will make good on its promise to level up the regions by demonstrating its commitment to funding Eden North and help us realise the dream of bringing Eden to our area, as well as looking favourably on our own proposals for a new unitary authority.”
Councillor Giles Archibald, Leader of South Lakeland District Council, said: “Our three authorities already have a strong record of collaboration on economic initiatives. Working together on The Bay unitary proposal has strengthened our commitment to shared priorities including improving wellbeing, building community wealth and tackling the climate emergency and loss of biodiversity.
“Eden North fits with all these key themes and would be a huge boost for communities across the whole Bay area. We hope that the Chancellor recognises the opportunity that this presents and commits to support the project.’’
Councillor Ann Thomson, the leader of Barrow Borough Council, said: "Eden Project North is an exciting prospect which would bring wide-ranging benefits for the whole of the Morecambe Bay area.
"In particular, it would help us to realise some of the ambitions we have identified through our work on The Bay unitary proposal including a strong and sustainable visitor economy and healthy, flourishing communities.
"We hope the Government recognises the magnitude of the opportunities Eden Project North will offer across our area with the commitment of the funding it needs to move forward."
People can have their say on The Bay proposals at https://consult.communities.gov.uk/governance-reform-and-democracy/cumbria.
Last week, other political, educational and civic leaders from across the north urged the government to fund the project.