THE five general election candidates standing for Whitehaven and Workington have been quizzed on three key issues around industry – whether they support the new coal mine in Whitehaven being given the go-ahead; whether they support new nuclear and their views on developing the tourism sector in West Cumbria.

Here’s what they had to say…


Josh MacAlister (Labour)

Josh MacAlister (Labour)Josh MacAlister (Labour) (Image: Submitted)

Our area needs good quality jobs that will last. The mine has been talked about for so long and mired in so many government delays and legal challenges that most people don’t believe it will ever open. If it does, there’s no British demand for this coal so it’ll be exported into a volatile market where the price is dropping. That makes the mine a risky bet for new jobs.

The easiest thing in the world would be to tell you the mine will solve our problems- but it won’t. It’s all that the Tories are offering but I think we can do better. We used to lead the way in new industry, and we can again. We deserve jobs that will last and that’s what I’ll fight for.

Andrew Johnson (Conservative)

Andrew Johnson (Conservative)Andrew Johnson (Conservative) (Image: Submitted)

I fully support the proposed new mine and the 500 well-paid direct jobs that it will bring, plus the thousands more in the wider supply chain. It offers the best prospect in years to create new jobs, attract significant investment into West Cumbria and help to deliver the upgrade to the coastal railway. If elected I will work tireless to fight for the mine to open and those jobs delivered. 

Chris Wills (Liberal Democrat)

Chris Wills (Liberal Democrat)Chris Wills (Liberal Democrat) (Image: Submitted)

From the moment it was announced, I have been publicly against the ludicrous proposed Woodhouse Colliery.

It plays on the DNA a real memory of a fine workforce in the area, who contributed to the productivity of British industry.  However, cutting through all that, I ask the older generation, do you really want your grandson or granddaughter working in a pit?

It’s completely non-viable.  No economic case that makes sense.

Why ruin the planet more? 

Jill Perry (Green Party)

Jill Perry (Green Party)Jill Perry (Green Party) (Image: Submitted)

I’ve been following the coalmine proposal since 2014. I don’t believe it offers long-term jobs for local people, I don’t believe it is necessary for the steel industry which is moving lower carbon emissions at pace. And most importantly it will be another disaster for the climate.

Just last week António Guterres, of the UN, called for a ban on advertising from fossil fuel companies because of their continued greenwashing. The Green Party would ban all new fossil fuel developments, revoke recent licenses and invest heavily in real solutions to climate change and green jobs. Green MPs will push the new Government to be braver and bolder on climate action.

David Surtees (Reform UK)

David Surtees (Reform UK)David Surtees (Reform UK) (Image: Submitted)

I would support the Whitehaven mine, one thing Covid should have taught for security our nation must be self-sufficient.

However I would not support it in its current format. It could be done for a lot less if it were not a sacrifice on alter of net zero.

The mine needs to come under UK ownership, be developed for a lot less money. Profits should be 50 per cent UK pensions and 50 per cent fed into our constituency.

The 500 jobs should go to local people.

We need to reverse the Labour-run Welsh assembly’s decision to close our only remaining steelworks.

The new electric arc furnaces pushed by the green agenda cannot produce the specialist steels our defence sector needs.


Josh MacAlister ( Labour)

New nuclear will produce good, unionised, long-term jobs. Delivering new nuclear will be my absolute number one priority and I’ll start banging on doors in Westminster on day one on the job. Labour is a pro-nuclear party. We’ve committed to getting Britain building nuclear power plants again after the Tories failed to open a single new plant in 14 years.

Andrew Johnson (Conservative)

I’m fully supportive of new nuclear at Moorside. Realistically, this has to be through the Small Modular Reactor (SMR) programme with Rolls Royce, where up to four SMRs could be deployed to not only generate power for the grid, but also support cluster industries like hydrogen and synthetic fuel production. I would work tirelessly to promote Moorside as the best location for SMR deployment if elected.

Chris Wills (Liberal Democrat)

Big new nuclear is far too expensive in creation and waste removal. It also ties us to foreign partners. Small nuclear reactors are the way forward. Flexible to power specific needs and very much cheaper.

Jill Perry (Green Party)

New nuclear power stations are expensive, slow to build – look at Hinkley Point, supposed to be cooking our Christmas dinners in 2018, now predicted to be online by the end of this decade, and they don’t give us energy independence.

We haven’t developed a realistic solution for dealing with the radioactive waste we have created over the last 70 years, so we shouldn’t even be considering producing more waste. Research into real solutions – not just deep burial and walking way with crossed fingers – should be the way forward for the nuclear industry locally.

David Surtees (Reform UK)

I have worked in the nuclear industry since 1985, yes small modular reactors is the way forward.


Josh MacAlister (Labour)

We have to do more to bring tourism west of the Lakes to ensure our local economy and businesses feel the benefits. That means developing master plans for our towns like Whitehaven to make them more appealing places to visit. It’s why I point to the success of Whitby to show what we could do here with the right plan and everyone pulling in the same direction.

Andrew Johnson (Conservative)

Tourism plays a key role in supporting our local economy, especially for those areas within the National Park. Given our close proximity to the globally recognised destination that is the Lake District we need to do more to encourage greater awareness of the fantastic attractions we have in wider West Cumbria to bring in more visitors, create jobs, and bring money into our towns.

Chris Wills (Liberal Democrat)

I have worked towards spreading the overloading of the Lake District tourism into West Cumbria for some years.  When I worked for the National Trust, I watched the Lakes being saturated by people who didn’t have accommodation or a plan of where to go.  We can give them both – head for West Cumbria: from where they can also enjoy the Lakes!

Jill Perry (Green Party)

Tourism is a mixed blessing. It provides jobs and income, but it also means fewer houses for local people, roads clogged with traffic and damage and disturbance to wildlife. So, while I wouldn’t like to see more tourists in Cumbria as a whole, I would like to see them better spread out – more tourists in the West, fewer in the Lake District hotspots.

Our coast is beautiful and has fantastic wildlife interest and cultural significance. Developing an interpretation centre, built to high environmental standards, to explain to tourists what there is to see, would be one way of drawing tourists out west.

David Surtees (Reform UK)

We need to invest and revitalise our constituency that has so much to offer tourists.