The two men fighting to become the next MP for Barrow and Furness have split over plans for a Morecambe Bay bridge.
Conservative candidate Simon Fell wants a link between Furness, Millom and Heysham, but Labour opponent Chris Altree is cool on the idea.

The proposal to cut journey times between South Cumbria and the M6 while also generating much-needed renewable energy has divided the parties.

Hawcoat Tory Alan Pemberton backs the scheme but Dalton Labour councillor Wendy Maddox warned recently it could ‘kill’ Barrow town centre.

Mr Fell argued that a tidal bridge would put Barrow on the renewable energy map – helping to diversify the borough economy from an over reliance on the shipyard for jobs and generating clean energy.

He said: “My councillor Alan Pemberton has banged on for some time now about a tidal barrage across the bay and I think we have an opportunity here to get tidal energy to Barrow and to become a centre of renewable energy. We should be grabbing those opportunities with both hands.

He added: “I am not going to say that we (the party) are going to spend £8 billion on a tidal barrage but we should certainly do our sums and look at whether we can make it work because it would be transformative for the Furness economy and the country.”

However, Mr Altree suggested the bridge proposal had been talked about for years and could damage the precious marine environment which is heavily protected by environmental legislation.

Mr Altree said: “Environmental studies have been done and they show that highly complex engineering would be needed and the cost would be far more substantial than the £8 billion quoted.”

“There is also a big question over how this would affect the environment of the sands and the tides which are fast and rapidly-changing. Studies were done 10 or so years ago and while it’s a great idea and an ambitious project to have, we also have to remember how this could affect the environment of the bay and the local eco-system.

“We have lots of protected species that live in this area, including the Natterjack toad for example. Labour does want to do projects but there are issues that which mean it possibly could not happen,” said Mr Altree.

On other transport issues, Mr Fell said Northern Rail deserved to be stripped of the franchise to deliver train services in and out of Barrow.

“Frankly, I think they are taking us all for fools at the moment,” said Mr Fell.

But Mr Altree pointed out that bus routes had been slashed in Cumbria because they were not making profit, and that Labour planned to give power over them ‘back to the councils’ which had seen huge budget cuts.