Following last week’s spending review, questions were raised once again over the Government’s commitment to levelling up, but Eden Project International chief executive David Harland said that Whitehall can demonstrate it is serious by backing projects like the £125m Morecambe attraction.
“We recognise this is precisely the sort of scheme that can drive the levelling up agenda and drive the green economy,” Harland told Place North West.
During the spending review, Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced a £4bn levelling up fund to boost economic growth outside of London but critics have claimed it is not enough.
The announcement came the week after Eden Project International requested £70m from the Government to fund the majority of the Eden Project North project, an immersive visitor experience housed across a series of mussel shell-shaped domes showcasing the marine habitat and ecology of Morecambe Bay.
While Harland waits to see if the funding bid has been successful, he said that it is up to the public to send a message about what it wants to see money spent on after the pandemic.
“The [Government’s] slogan is ‘build back better’ but irrelevant of the slogan [the pandemic] has given us all a chance to say we want to do things slightly differently.
“We are not saying that having an Eden is the solution, far from it, but it is one of the ways that the Government can demonstrate its commitment to levelling up and the green economy. It is up to all of us to tell people what we want and what type of communities we want coming out of the pandemic.”
Local authorities across the country will be vying for Government investment to drive economic recovery after a catastrophic year and Harland is under no illusions about the size of the task facing his company when it comes to funding.
“If we get £70m it still means we have to raise £55m. We are making our case very loudly,” Harland said.