The head of the Northern Powerhouse Partnership has accused the Government of stifling the North’s economic renaissance due to its lack of commitment to devolution and a coherent energy policy.

Henri Murison, director of the organisation charged with attempting to close the economic and social North-South divide made the criticisms at the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Select Committee, which met to examine the Government’s support for business and its efforts to attract inward investment in the North.

Mr Murison admitted "I sometimes despair" over devolution of powers and spending to regions across the North, which he has argued “could have a transformational effect increasing productivity”.

He argued that the North has a pivotal role to play in the success of the UK’s Industrial Strategy given its world-leading capabilities in advanced manufacturing and materials, energy, health innovation and digital – but that national policies had held back progress.

Mr Murison fiercely criticised the Government for standing by while the £15 billion Moorside power station development in West Cumbria collapsed, taking with it the prospect of thousands of jobs as well as a significant contribution to the UK’s energy needs.

He, along with business leaders, politicians and academics, had called for the Government to invest in the project to keep it alive as its Japanese backers Toshiba slowly pulled the plug.

And Mr Murison admitted to sharing the frustration of the Power Up The North collaboration – which has brought together Newsquest – owners of in-Cumbria – and rival publishers JPI Media and Reach, which has called for urgent action on key areas to turbocharge the North’s economy.

“The lack of momentum that happened when the current Prime Minister first took office has been somewhat addressed,” he said.

“But we need to go further which is why people like our regional newspapers have been campaigning for more progress.”

Power Up The North has demanded detailed plans from all major parties on everything from a bespoke Industrial Strategy for the North – including a new plan for the Moorside site – and making Northern Powerhouse Rail a national priority, to extra investment in the region’s colleges and universities to boost skills along with more devolved powers for Cumbria.

The committee also examined the impact of the Northern Powerhouse five years since it was established by the then Chancellor George Osborne, who remains its chairman.

One area of success, it heard, had been its influence in securing the backing for Transport for the North, which aims to deliver a number of key projects in Cumbria. But Mr Murison stressed there was a bigger picture to consider.

“There is a lot of talk about northern transport issues, but if you don't have an answer to education and skills, and skills can only be done at the level of functioning economic geographies, you are not going to make progress on re-balancing the economy,” he said.

“You are just going to take the limited number of people with high skills to the bigger cities and create bigger skills disparities in the areas that are more marginal.”

Mr Murison has been one of several key figures to back Power Up The North’s call for action to “reverse decades of under-investment in key services”.

Others have included Lakes Distillery chairman Nigel Mills, the Institute of Directors and Cumbria Chamber of Commerce, and politicians including Northern Powerhouse Minister Jake Berry and Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.

And the influential committee’s chairman Rachel Reeves has also recognised its role in shining a light on “the urgency of addressing the North-South divide and the need to get on with the policies and actions to truly capitalise on the talents of the people across the North”.