Brexit: Cornwall fisherman discusses potential outside EU
Prime Minister Boris Johnson previously outlined his ‘Ten Point Plan’ to create 250,000 British jobs in clean energy, transport, nature and innovative technologies to allow the UK to reach the legally binding net-zero target by 2050. At the centre of his ‘Green Industrial Revolution’ are the UK’s industrial heartlands, including Cornwall – whose local council declared a climate emergency in 2019. Since then it has moved to generate around 37 percent of its electricity from renewable sources and is on track to be net-zero 20 years ahead of Whitehall’s target.
But Mr Duddridge, who is Chair of the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly local enterprise partnership, has told Express.co.uk that they would “strongly” benefit from the devolution of more power.
He said: “What many years of European funding has shown us is that there is a depth of expertise in handling public money at that scale down here.
“Cornwall is a fairly big unitary council and it has had devolution deals in a number of areas where more responsibility has gone from Westminster.
“Where that has benefited those old European programmes is it has allowed us to properly understand and work with local partners to deliver to investors.
Cornwall has tabled a bid for devolution of power
Cornwall voted overwhelmingly to leave the EU
“We’ve got quite a lot of local knowledge and we’ve seen through the European programmes where we have had an element of devolution that they have been successful.”
In the UK, there are separate legislatures and executives in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland that have powers to make laws and deliver public services.
The SNP has been arguing for complete independence since it became the governing party of the devolved parliament in 2007, which led to a majority “no” decision in a 2014 referendum.
A proposed second referendum on independence has been spearheaded by Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, particularly since the UK voted to leave the EU in 2016.
Westminster has been sent further warnings to work harder on its relationship with the wider UK as polls show record backing for Welsh independence, too.
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Boris Johnson has put forward his Ten Point Plan
And while Cornwall is not looking for a breakaway from the UK – 56.5 percent of its voters opted for ‘Leave’ in the EU referendum – it did receive more than £1billion of aid from the EU over the past 15 years – more than anywhere else in Britain.
And Mr Duddridge said he had experienced frustration working with Government since.
He added: “Those projects where it has gone through national partners have been really slow – what we know is going forward we don’t want to be slow.
“We want to get behind investments and also the skills – we’ve got to grow a different workforce down here out of the people we’ve got here.
“I think with Scotland – the power of having the surety of funding over a period of time, and knowing first-hand the delivery partners – with more local management money can be deployed quicker and more effectively.
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Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon
Cornwall has made strides to reaching net-zero targets
“When we had a building fund come out to Cornwall last year – in two weeks we sorted out 14 or £15million worth of investments lined up for a strategy to be in place by the back end of next year.
“It was really quick because we knew the businesses, we knew the investors – if you’ve got that devolution you can do that.”
Mr Duddridge, who has worked in a number of executive roles in businesses on the southwest, warned that going “back and forth” with Westminster and the Treasury risked losing private investors in the future.
And now is not the time for that.
As world leaders are set to travel to Cornwall for the G7 Summit this summer, the county has already started making strides towards plans to woo the likes of US President Joe Biden, who is enthusiastic about climate change.
Spaceport Cornwall will be the European hub for Virgin Orbit
Mr Duddridge explained: “Although we are a relatively small economy, Cornwall has always been an international trading place, so I think we can show to the world we are open to business.
“We have some emerging technologies like floating offshore wind that, over the next 10 years, could put £1.5billion investment into the southwest.
“Some of the areas around geo-resources and geoscience, particularly the lithium side of it, are now starting to prove concepts and they will be looking for investments.
“Behind that, we have lots of database businesses, particularly in Goonhilly and the space side of that is only going to accelerate.
Joe Biden is set to be wood by the county
“There are lots of things we would like to show off to visitors, as well as our traditional bits.”
Express.co.uk previously revealed how the Prime Minister was handed a “once in a lifetime” opportunity with Spaceport Cornwall – which is set to become Europe’s first horizontal launch site to provide a responsive, affordable and efficient way to send small satellites into Low-Earth Orbit (LEO).
It came after Richard Branson’s Virgin Orbit successfully completed the first full orbital launch of its LauncherOne system from Mojave Air and Space Port in California last year.
As Mr Branson’s “only European Hub,” the Cornwall Council-funded project could host the first Virgin Orbit launches as early as 2022 – creating up to 350 jobs and adding up to £200million Gross Value Added (GVA) to the economy.