We emailed the following question to all parliamentary candidates Cumbria-wide (Barrow and Furness, Carlisle, Copeland, Penrith and the Border, Westmorland and Lonsdale, Workington):
“In the event of Moorside going ahead, what are your views on how the power station should be connected?”
Barrow and Furness constituency
Labour candidate: John Woodcock
John Woodcock was elected MP for Barrow and Furness in 2010. He has demonstrated strong support for the anti-pylon cause since 2015.
He told us:
“National Grid has paused its proposed Northwest Coast Connections project. It is great news that the amazing community campaign, spearheaded by the tenacious group Power Without Pylons, will get more time to make the case against giant pylons in the Duddon valley – we will keep fighting to protect our beautiful natural landscape.
Events such as the New Year’s day walk along the proposed pylon route really have kept the pressure up for a rethink on the use of giant pylons and I am proud to have played my part.
If I am returned as your MP on June 8th I will continue to battle hard for the connection to go ahead without the proposed monstrous pylons as an independent Labour voice fighting for the Furness community.”
He pledged, if re-elected, to raise the issues of Moorside and the NWCC project with the Energy Minister as soon as possible.
Conservative candidate: Simon Fell
Simon Fell told us: “Put simply, I believe that the current plans are entirely inappropriate. Placing pylons of any size along the proposed route would permanently damage our natural environment. I would support the routing of cables either offshore or underground and, if elected, I would hope to work with your group, other interested bodies, local representatives, NWCC and the government to find a solution that enables the project to go ahead but without the permanent disfiguration to our landscape that the proposed solution would bring.”
Liberal Democrat candidate: Loraine Birchall
Loraine Birchall replied:
“I have already lobbied together with the Lake District National Park Business Task Force group for the cables to be buried underground along the whole route. Given than most of the area around Millom and the Furness peninsular is only just outside the National Park and is every bit as beautiful, it would have a detrimental effect on the area.
I did live in Ladyhall when my son was a toddler (he is 17 next month) and know the area well. I have asked questions during the consultation regarding the ‘costings’ for the subsea element of the project and haven’t received an answer. I was curious as to why the subsea costings have almost doubled in just over two years from the previous consultation, given that the price of steel, fuel and other commodities is actually very low, steel in particular being ‘on the floor’ compared to past costs. Curious, is it not?
If elected, I will lobby and campaign for the cables to be buried rather than erect giant pylons in such a beautiful area.”
[N.B. PWP has also asked National Grid, more than once, for an explanation for the doubling of the HVDC subsea cost estimate, and none has been forthcoming. We believe that their current estimate for this option cannot be justified, and that the technical issues have been exaggerated.]
We have received no replies from our emails to other candidates.