DORSET is joining with the rest of the south west in a bid to give the region the same clout as the Northern Powerhouse and the Midlands Engine.

The region’s MPs, businesses, public sector and university leaders came together to launch the Great South West initiative at Westminster.

Dorset Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) is working with two neighbouring LEPs – one for Cornwall and the Isle of Scilly and the other for the Heart of the South West.

Jim Stewart, chair of Dorset LEP, said: “This was an excellent opportunity for the three south west LEPs to meet with our MPs in Westminster and share our vision for the region with them.

“The South West economy is nationally significant and is larger than any combined authority – double the size of both Greater Manchester and West Midlands. Yet we are not receiving the same financial investment from the government as these regions.

“Our Great South West alliance of regional business leaders, academic heads and local authorities is determined to win backing for our plans that will put the region on the economic map. Dorset and the South West have a lot more to offer UK PLC.”

Representatives form the three LEPs met with MPs at a meeting arranged by Dorset LEP and West Dorset MP Sir Oliver Letwin. They received a presentation from Great South West, which set out the economic significance of the region.

As well having an economy double the size of Greater Manchester and West Midlands, Great South West also contributes more to UK gross value added than both Thames Gateway and the Cambridge-Milton Keynes-Oxford corridor, they were told.

It also has a bigger productivity than both the Northern Powerhouse and Midlands Engine but lags behind the English average.

If productivity in the South West matched current levels in the south east, the region would add more than £18billion a year to the UK economy.

Sir Oliver said: “This meeting provided a great opportunity for south west MPs to be properly briefed about this exciting proposition, which could grow to deliver a significant step-change in productivity for the south west.

“It is highly encouraging to see the diversity and number of stakeholders, even at this early stage – with Local Enterprise Partnerships, local authorities, universities, the CBI, chambers of commerce and many others all involved in the Great South West project.”

The South West is home to the single largest infrastructure project in Europe – the new Hinkley Point nuclear power plant in Somerset.

The region’s tourism industry attracts more visitors than anywhere in the UK outside London.