A FORUM of political and business leaders has warned that the county must not allow the pandemic recovery to distract it from the climate crisis.

The forum, entitled Powering Up the Recovery, was attended by Councillor Michael Green, cabinet member for the environment on Lancashire County Council, Mark Lees, station director for Heysham One and Two at EDF Energy, and Tom Samson, CEO of the UK SMR Consortium, among others.

The discussion, carried out virtually over the last week, was chaired by East Lancashire Chamber of Commerce CEO Miranda Barker.

Speaking about the need to confront the looming crisis, she said: “It’s a balance between that opportunity and threat.

“There’s a threat that if businesses don’t take advantage of the green recovery they won’t fit into that whole supply chain picture.

"But there’s also a huge opportunity to be at the forefront of first mover businesses that are pushing supply chains forward.”

The event had been arranged by Electricity North West as part of its Plugging In consultancy programme, which aims to inform much of its planning over the next decade.

Electricity North West regulation director Paul Bircham said: “Covid has understandably dominated the agenda and it’s very easy for the pressing climate change emergency to be pushed in the background.

“The economic response to Covid-19 must benefit the environment but, at the same time, the plans to address climate change must benefit the economy and society to support our recovery.

“Only together can we stimulate clean growth, good jobs, new skills and drive forward the economy, that will benefit everybody, including those in society in vulnerable circumstances, while also getting to some very challenging net zero targets."

To do this, Electricity North West says that it haa already accelerated some of its own infrastructure projects, which are designed to ease the transition towards becoming a net zero carbon economy, and has brought them forward to support the economic recovery.

This includes the infrastructure work that recently started at the Samlesbury Enterprise Zone.

The company also says that it has already consulted more than 17,000 people and businesses across the North West to decides how best to tackle the challenges ahead.

Further forum events are planned for Greater Manchester and Cumbria.