Cumbria Deal - "A Great Deal" or "Dealing ourselves short"? Cumbria's leaders have just published Cumbria Deal - A High Level Proposition. It's a document aimed at boosting economic growth and public sector delivery within the County. It calls for a devolution of powers from central government and makes the case for Cumbria contributing to the Northern Powerhouse. Absolutely admirable. 30,000 new jobs and an increase in Cumbria's economy of £1.3 billion. What's not to like? This time ten years ago, Cumbria was in a similar position when we were encouraged to close the gap in GVA between ourselves and Manchester. At the time, Manchester was chasing the output of the South East, so with Cumbria’s comparative geography and population density, we were never going to achieve this. On GVA alone, we would always be the poorer country cousin. Cumbria Deal highlights that "What sets us apart is the combination of Cumbria being a great place for business innovation and enterprise with a world-class environment, landscape and quality of life offer". This offer should set us apart. So why does Cumbria Deal not capitalise on this? The bold headlines are all economic - £16 billion from Moorside Nuclear Power Station, £250 million at BAE Systems, massive investments in infrastructure projects. This is understandable - we are making a case to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, but shouldn't we be just as bold about our "world class environment, landscape and quality of life offer"? Yes, there are references to food, farming and forestry, to rural productivity, to the visitor economy, and to management of carbon, but what makes Cumbria different is who, how and where we do these. The section on Health and Social Care makes no mention of the now widely recognised benefits of experiencing the environment. There is increasing evidence demonstrating the benefits to physical and mental wellbeing of the "Natural Health Service”, reducing other interventions and massive costs within the NHS. What we are surrounded by in Cumbria could surely provide people across the North with an entire green pharmacopeia. Cumbria should not be simply a rural hinterland to Manchester, Liverpool and other urban areas. We are more than just where food comes from and where people come to visit. We do generate economic activity, and where would Manchester be without Cumbrian water? There are two photographs of the countryside in Cumbria Deal, and both tell a story. The first, in the Economic Growth section shows a valley dominated by electricity pylons and cables. A coincidence that currently the North West Coast Connection is threatening part of the Lake District National Park with 24 km of pylons nearly 50 m high? The country needs energy, and it has to be moved from where it is generated to where it is used, but at what cost to the environment? Or in Mr Osborne-speak, at what cost to the landscape that attracts millions of visitors and billions of pounds – many from overseas – to Cumbria? The second photograph is of the Tebay Gorge, showing how the M6 and the West Coast Line slice through Westmorland. This particular picture clearly shows how the road was laid to fit the contours of the landscape, and this area is often described as the most beautiful stretch of motorway in the country. Here is Cumbria making an essential contribution to a vital section of national infrastructure, while mitigating the damage to itself. Jobs, growth, housing, infrastructure are all important for a sustainable future. The Northern Powerhouse should not be concentrated in our City Regions. But Cumbria’s contributions should be complementary, not competitive. We can contribute economically, but what we can uniquely offer in terms of environmental and landscape benefits should be valued as well. We certainly shouldn’t undervalue them ourselves.