A MAJOR initiative to prepare for the shrinking of employment opportunities at Sellafield took an important step forward this week, and the project could be set to create 700 jobs.

Copeland Borough Council voted to submit a bid for Levelling-Up funding to Government on Tuesday.

The funding bid will benefit the Industrial Solutions Hub (iSH), a project which will run as a council owned company, making the most of innovation and skills in West Cumbria.

Government funding will be accompanied by £7 million from the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority’s Socio Economic Fund and £2.329 million from Sellafield’s Social Impact Fund.

NDA funding will support the redevelopment of Leconfield Industrial Estate into the iSH Enterprise Campus.

READ MORE: Plans to make West Cumbria an innovation hotbed moves forward

It will also act as match funding towards the Enterprising Town project, a scheme the council’s Town Deal submission which involves the creation of Cleator Moor Innovation Quarter, with Leconfield at the centre.

The iSH initiative has been designed in preparation for the ramping down of operations on-site at Sellafield, which will ultimately mean a reduction in available jobs.

iSH will make the most of the innovation and cutting-edge skills being pioneered in West Cumbria, particularly in clean energy and nuclear decommissioning.

AND iSH’s economic assessment estimates that the initial redevelopment of the industrial estate and land owned by Copeland Council, supported through the Town Deal, will generate more than 100 new jobs over a period of 18 months.

The overall scheme is expected to create more than 700 new jobs in the next 10 to 15 years.

READ MORE: New plans submitted for developments on Leconfield site

Jamie Reed, NDA Director of Socio-Economics, said: “The NDA and Sellafield Ltd have worked with local partners over recent years to bring these ideas forward and to ensure that the Industrial Solutions Hub has reached this point.

“This is part of a series of socio-economic projects we have collectively helped to fund over recent years including Campus Whitehaven, the Bus Station and more.

“Our socio-economic agenda is an important part of our legacy as we continue to make progress against our decommissioning mission and we’re committed to working with local partners to co-create future projects that help to strengthen and diversify the local economy.”

John Maddison, managing director of iSH which will have its base in Cleator Moor, said: “This is an exciting day for iSH and we thank those in Copeland Borough

“Council, the NDA and Sellafield who have given our programme their support and this vital financial backing.

“We have ambitious plans to bring opportunity and prosperity to the area through industry, business, skills and social programmes which will make a positive difference to people's lives and regenerate communities across West Cumbria.

“iSH is an initiative of regional, national and international significance which will create jobs, opportunities for businesses and organisations to collaborate, enhance skills, provide business support, and bring a range of economic, environmental and social benefits to the community.”

READ MORE: West Cumbria to become go-to skills hotbed under Copeland Council project