AROUND 9,000 green jobs could be created in Cumbria over the next 15 years.
Green industries and investment could grow as the county seeks to hit its 2037 net-zero target, according to a new independent report by local organisation Cumbria Action for Sustainability (CAfS).
The report, entitled The potential for green jobs in Cumbria, calculates that around 9,000 jobs could be created for local people during a 15-year ‘transition period’ towards the county reaching net-zero, and a further 3,800 jobs in the longer term across sectors including transport, industry, retrofitting, renewable heat, renewable electricity and waste.
The report suggests the job creation could include:
• 4,500 would be in West Cumbria (the site of the Whitehaven coal mine) – around 3,500 in renewable electricity, 650 in retrofitting buildings, 150 in waste management and 150 in industry.
• 1,500 would be in Barrow – around 800 in renewable electricity, 300 in retrofitting buildings, 150 in green transport, 100 in waste management, and 100 in industry.
• 1,100 would be in Carlisle – around 300 in renewable electricity, 450 in retrofitting buildings, 150 in green transport, 100 in waste management, and 100 in industry.
• 1,100 would be in Eden – around 750 in renewable electricity, 250 in retrofitting buildings, 100 in waste management, and 50 in industry.
• 1,000 would be in South Lakeland – around 450 in renewable electricity, 400 in retrofitting buildings, 100 in waste management and 50 in industry.
The Zero Carbon Cumbria Partnership, which includes around 70 public, private and third sector organisations, has adopted a net-zero target year of 2037 for the county. This would require an 18% reduction in carbon emissions each year.
Investments of £8.88 billion could put in place measures to reduce Cumbria’s carbon emissions by 57%, compared to a ‘business-as-usual’ scenario, with additional initiatives identified which could fill the remaining 43% gap to reach net-zero. The report also finds that savings of £854 million could be made to Cumbria’s annual energy bill as a result of the investment.
Karen Mitchell, CEO of CAfS, said: “The potential for green jobs across all regions of Cumbria is substantial. High-quality, long-term and environmentally sustainable jobs could help the region recover from decades of neglect, exacerbated by the pandemic. But for Cumbria to realise this potential requires a steadfast commitment to the green industries and technologies of the future.”
The findings highlight the potential that the adoption of low-carbon technologies and behaviours has for job creation which could serve as an attractive alternative to the high-carbon jobs currently being proposed for the Whitehaven coal mine. Upgrading the energy performance of homes and other buildings for example, has the potential to provide over 1,350 jobs over the next 15-year period, as well as improve living conditions, energy efficiency and reduce energy bills.
Professor Rebecca Willis, Professor in Practice at Lancaster Environment Centre, said: “Cumbria shouldn’t be chasing dirty jobs with no future, it should be working with government to bring investment in green energy and technologies, creating thousands of future-proofed jobs for an area that really needs them.”
Renewable energy is singled out as a sector with particularly significant potential for local green jobs, emissions reductions and cheaper household bills. Renewable electricity generation from wind (offshore and onshore), tidal, hydro and solar could create nearly 6,000 jobs during the 15-year transition period, of which 3,500 would be in west Cumbria. In the long term there could be around 2,000 additional jobs in maintenance of renewable energy systems.
Gill Fenna, Director at Quantum Strategy & Technology, a business consultancy specialising in low carbon and environmental good & services, said: “Cumbria’s 2037 net-zero target will not be achieved by continuing with business as usual – it requires definitive action. We have a golden opportunity to use Cumbria’s abundant natural resources to develop its renewable energy capacity – in onshore and offshore wind, hydro, tidal and solar power – and in doing so, create thousands of sustainable jobs to secure the county’s long-term future.”
Barry Leahey, Chair of the Institute of Directors (Cumbria branch), and Board Member of the Cumbria Local Enterprise Partnership Business and Economic Recovery Group, said: “Cumbria has a wealth of pre-existing knowledge that can be easily transferred to green sectors, as well as providing jobs for the younger generations, but we often lose their skills and brains to the capital and beyond. Cumbria really could be the green place to work, and not just to visit.”
Marcia Reid Fotheringham, Patron of Britain’s Energy Coast Business Cluster (BECBC), said: “Developing green jobs is our future – it has to be a vital part of our post-covid survival. It’s an obvious, smart strategy. If we are to build a future fit for our grandchildren, we need green jobs that will take us into the next generation. This report makes clear that Cumbria’s future is in a green economy, which will not only help the county transition to net-zero, but also show that Cumbria has a role to play on the global green energy stage.”
Last month, Cumbria County Council decided to reconsider its approval of the mine, and on Friday, West Cumbria Mining, the company behind the project, stated it will take legal action against the Council’s decision to review its approval. West Cumbria Mining claims it will create around 500 jobs with the aim that 80% of these roles will be filled by local people. The potential total of ‘transition period’ and longer-term green jobs available in Cumbria reaches over 25 times that figure, at 12,800 overall.