The leader of Cumbria County Council has put his name to a letter calling for a £1bn economic ‘kick-start’ for coastal industries – to help them recover from the coronavirus.

Councillor Stewart Young has joined more than 40 other heads of local authorities across the country in a call to the Government's chancellor Rishi Sunak to “support jobs, drive innovation and enable trade” by supporting “de-carbonisation."

The letter was written by Harry Theochari, chair of Maritime UK, an organisation that bills itself as the “collective voice for the UK’s maritime industries."

Another local leader to sign the letter is Councillor Elaine Murray from Dumfries and Galloway Council.

The letter states: “A government investment of £1bn to kick-start the UK’s maritime decarbonisation programme would directly create 15,200 jobs and a further 58,400 jobs throughout the supply chain.

“Not only is maritime decarbonisation essential to meeting the legislative target of net zero emissions by 2050, but the right level of investment now will position the UK as the world-leader in this area.

“Globally, the maritime sector will double to $3trn by 2030, and the UK has a unique opportunity to be at the forefront of the growing market for de-carbonising the maritime sector, and to export these technologies globally.

“But without investment, this opportunity will be missed, and the UK will risk losing its position as a world-leader in maritime. Many other countries around the world are already acting to support the de-carbonisation of their maritime industries, and the UK Government must do the same.”

He added that coastal and ex-industrial towns are the ones most economically at risk from the covid-19 pandemic.

Councillor David Southward, who is the cabinet member for economic development and property and represents Egremont, said the money would be especially important to areas in West Cumbria, like Workington, which does not rely on industries like shipbuilding that would keep the town going for “30 to 40 years."

He added that the money would be a good idea because it would “certainly boost the economy."

A spokesman for the county council said: “The county council is a signatory of the letter to government to request more investment in improving coastal areas.

“The council, together with Allerdale Council, Copeland Council, South Lakeland District Council and Carlisle City Council, and other partners including risk management authorities and non-government organisations, have worked closely to produce the Cumbria Coastal Strategy to clearly understand when and how the Cumbria shoreline plan should be managed to combat coastal erosion in the future.

“Any funding received from government would be used to further progress proposals agreed within the strategy.”

For information on the council’s strategy, visit its website at: