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The conversation about the Morecambe project featured speakers including David Harland, Chief Executive of Eden Project International; Sarah Wroe, Head of Stakeholder Relations at Lancaster University; Councillor Dr Erica Lewis, Leader of Lancaster City Council; Andrew Barrow, Construction and Infrastructure Programme Manager at Lancashire County Council; and Sarah Kemp, CEO of the Lancashire Enterprise Partnership.

Questions and answers from the conversation

Q: How confident are you that the case for Eden Project North will be looked upon favourably moving forward? 

A: The world has changed beyond measure this year and the Government recognises as imperative that we come out of the pandemic with a collective focus on a recovery that stimulates the economy, is environmentally forward-looking and creates meaningful, 21st century  jobs. Our firm belief is that Eden Project North does all of these things and we are confident we have made a strong case for investment to the Government with cross-party support from local MPs and the backing of local authorities and many local businesses 

Q: Is there provision in the plans for wider improvements to the promenade? Is there facility to receive ideas from the local community? And when should we expect 'shovels in the ground'?

A: We are looking at various options for the promenade and will work with the local community and the Council throughout the process. We are currently finalising our engagement programme for the next stages of design and will be announcing future events on our website and through our social media channels. It is our firm belief that the local community need to feel a sense of ownership of Eden Project North - this is very much Morecambe’s project and we can't succeed without the support and creativity of the community. Our engagement will be wide-reaching, transparent and carry on beyond the submission of the planning application.   

A timeline for beginning construction will ultimately depend on how quickly we are able to secure funding for the project, but our current plan is to submit a planning application in the first half of 2021, with construction beginning later the same year.

Q: What will be the plans for more safe cycling and getting people into the centre on foot and bikes?

A: Eden Project North will identify and help incentivise a variety of sustainable transport solutions for visitors and we will be working with the local councils and agencies to encourage travel to the site through walking and cycling and enable this to be an attractive and easy option. Again, we will engage with the local community on the details of our transport plan during our planning consultation. We have long been advocates of sustainable transport and Eden in Cornwall has always offered incentives for people arriving by bicycle, on foot or using public transport. As part of our early feasibility work, Eden has set out a bold ‘Transport Vision’ for Morecambe and Lancaster which we hope will provide an ambition for the authorities to deliver as part of the wider transformational outcomes for the area.

Q: Has any consideration been given to the high aerial tramway idea, linking Eden North to Lancaster?

A: We are aware of the high aerial tramway project but this is not part of the current Eden Project North proposals. We are working closely with both the County and City Councils on holistic transport solutions which will form part of our Planning Consultations.

Q: How will you ensure local or at least north-based SME's are involved in some way, particularly on the energy provision? Is the arrangement one in which Eden will bring the whole infrastructure with them, build and set-up or are you open to local provision?

A: While we will export our operational and creative expertise to make Morecambe a genuine “Eden” experience, it is imperative that we nurture the local workforce and supply chains in the Morecambe Bay region. Eden’s procurement policies make it very clear that all of our projects must strive to maximise the benefits to the local economy. It is a fundamental part of creating wider, long-term transformation throughout the area.

This has been evidenced on our site in Cornwall. We will shortly be developing an “Eden ready” programme to help local businesses enhance their own sustainability credentials.  

Q: How will Eden ensure that the critical nesting sites of birds on the Bay (many that migrate) are not negatively impacted? Are you collaborating with the RSPB?

A: We are acutely aware of the highly sensitive nature of the bay and have been engaging with the RSPB, Morecambe Bay Nature Partnership and Natural England from the outset and will continue to build these relationships. Rather than simply ensuring the nesting sites are not negatively impacted, we wish to go further and are aiming for a net biodiversity gain from the project. We are currently completing various seasonal studies and will be undertaking a full environmental assessment. Eden Project North is about showcasing the unique ecosystem of Morecambe Bay so it is paramount that everything we do works in harmony with nature. 

Q: What is the timeline for securing Government funding? If not successful will you reach out to secure private funding?

A: We are working closely with the Government and are confident we have made a strong case for investment. Our plan has always been a mix of public and private finance and this remains in place.  Work is well underway with securing funding from both sectors.  

Q: I’d be interested to hear how Eden will complement and partner the South Lakes offer and avoid competing with it?

A: We see Eden as part of an offer that encourages visitors to spend additional time in the wider Morecambe Bay area, including the South Lakes and the Fylde Coast. Eden Project North will be unique and we will work closely with other visitor organisations in the area to ensure our offers are complimentary. Several South Lakes businesses have already been in contact with us and we hope that with Eden, there will be a greater potential for things like improved public transport services around the Bay.  

Q: Are you linked with Food Futures regarding food procurement? They operate in North Lancs and South Cumbria.

A: Yes, members of our team are in contact with Food Futures and we look forward to working with them more closely going forward as our “food experience” plans develop.   

Q: Are you looking or open to innovation in energy provision? Who would I look to speak with on this?  

A: We have long advocated for innovative, renewable energy provision and have recently begun construction work on a new geothermal heat and energy plant on our site in Cornwall. For Eden Project North, we are setting the bar very high in terms of our approach to sustainable building and plan to showcase these principles  and demonstrate “net zero carbon” credentials in terms of energy, water and waste.

 

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