Where do the parties stand on key issues & controversies in Cumbria & the South of Scotland?

Border election issues. Independence, farming, Sellafield and coal mine
Scottish Independenc, the future of the West Cumbrian coal mine, farming and Nuclear are likely to be key issues for voters.

The main political parties have now published their general election manifestos.

Most of their plans are national in nature, and ITV News has summarised the key points.

We have looked through the documents to find points particularly relevant to Cumbria and the South of Scotland.

The region is not directly mentioned much in their manifestos, but the parties have strong positions around some of the biggest local issues and controversies.

Should the proposed coal mine in Whitehaven go ahead?

The Conservatives' manifesto does not mention the mine, or coal, though they have supported the project in government.

Labour say: "we will not grant new coal licences". It is not clear if this means they would block the Whitehaven mine if they get into power.

The Liberal Democrats say they would introduce "a ban on new coal mines".

Reform UK say they would "explore clean coal mining".

The Green Party say their MPs would push the next government to stop all new fossil fuel extraction projects in the UK and to cancel recently issued licences, as they believe "it is dangerous and reckless to extract more fossil fuels in an accelerating climate emergency".

The SNP say their MPs would demand the UK government "follow the SNP Scottish Government's lead and commit to no support for new coal", as they say it would "undermine our action to reach net zero".

Should there be new nuclear power generation in West Cumbria or the South of Scotland?

The Conservatives are promising to "scale up nuclear power". They say that if they are re-elected, within the first 100 days, they would approve two new fleets of small modular reactors, to "create well-paid, high-skilled jobs and deliver cheaper, cleaner and more secure energy." They also say they will "continue laying the groundwork for nuclear projects to be taken forward in Scotland".

Labour are pledging to "ensure the long-term security" of the sector. They say new nuclear power stations and small modular reactors "will play an important role in helping the UK achieve energy security and clean power while securing thousands of good, skilled jobs".

The Liberal Democrats' manifesto does not mention nuclear power.

Reform UK say they would "fast-track clean nuclear energy" with new small modular reactors, built in Britain.

The Green Party say they would stop the development of new nuclear power stations, as "nuclear energy is much more expensive and slower to develop than renewables".

The SNP call on the next UK government to "rule out new nuclear plants in Scotland." They argue "the best pathway to net zero and secure, affordable and clean energy is through significant growth in renewables, storage, hydrogen and carbon capture".

Should there be another Scottish Independence Referendum?

The Conservatives argue: "the 2014 vote was decisive". They accuse the SNP of remaining "focused on the constitution while Scotland has moved on", and say they will "continue to oppose" any push for another referendum on Scottish independence.

Labour say the party "does not support independence or another referendum". They pledge to "protect and respect devolution and reset relations" between the governments at Westminster and Holyrood.

The Liberal Democrats say they "oppose a second Scottish independence referendum and independence". They are pledging to "introduce a written constitution for a federal United Kingdom with strong voices for England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland".

Reform UK's 'Contract' of policies, in place of a manifesto, does not mention Scotland or this question.

The Green Party say they "believe in national self-determination" and "the Scottish people should be free to decide whether they want to remain part of the United Kingdom".

The SNP's first pledge in their manifesto is to "deliver independence to strengthen our economy, tackle the cost of living, and bring about a fairer country." They claim: "If the SNP wins a majority of Scottish seats, the Scottish Government will be empowered to begin immediate negotiations with the UK Government to give democratic effect to Scotland becoming an independent country".

Should Cumbria have a directly elected mayor?

The Conservatives say they want to "empower communities through devolution". If they are elected, they say: "by 2030, every part of England that wants one will have a devolution deal".

Labour say they would "widen devolution to more areas, encouraging local authorities to come together and take on new powers".

The Liberal Democrats say they would "end... the imposition of elected mayors on communities who do not want them".

Reform UK do not mention devolution in their policy "Contract".

The Green Party say they believe "communities should make their own decisions".

The SNP manifesto does not mention this issue.

What's the best way to stop sewage being released into our waterways?

The Conservatives say they have already set out an "ambitious" Plan for Water, which includes working with the regulator to further hold water companies to account, including banning executive bonuses if a company has committed a serious criminal breach.

Labour say they would put water companies under special measures to clean up waterways, give regulators new powers to block bonuses being paid, and bring criminal charges against persistent lawbreakers.

The Liberal Democrats say they would "end the sewage scandal" by turning water companies into private benefit companies, banning bonuses for water bosses until discharges and leaks end, and replacing Ofwat with a "tough" new regulator with more powers.

Reform UK do not mention sewage in their 'Contract' of policies.

The Green Party argue "the only way to end the scandal of our filthy water is to end the failed experiment with privatisation and bring the water companies back into public ownership", and say money being extracted by shareholders would be invested to fix leaks and rebuild infrastructure.

The SNP manifesto does not mention this issue.

What does the future of farming look like?

The Conservatives are pledging to increase the UK-wide farming budget by £1bn over the course of the next parliament, protect the best agricultural land from solar farms, and introduce "a legal target and additional investment for food security".

Labour say they would "champion British farming whilst protecting the environment", and set a target for half of food purchased in the public sector to be produced locally or certified to higher environmental standards.

The Liberal Democrats are pledging to introduce a "holistic and comprehensive" national food strategy to "ensure food security, tackle rising food prices, end food poverty and improve health and nutrition".

Reform UK say they would increase the agriculture budget, encourage young people into farming, and "increase innovation and diversification".

The Green Party say they would push to almost treble support to farmers over the next five-year parliament "to support the transition to nature-friendly farming", conserve and improve the health of the soil and "better educate the population about food and health".

The SNP argue Westminster should increase funding for farming, to at least pro-Brexit levels, and "provide certainty through multi-annual funding frameworks".

What are the parties' positions on immigration and how could it affect the region's workforce?

The Conservatives have pledged a "binding, legal cap on migration", set on work and family visas. They say this would mean "public services are protected whilst we bring the skills our businesses and the NHS need." They say they would raise visa income requirements automatically with inflation.

Labour are pledging to "end the long-term reliance on overseas workers in some parts of the economy", by introducing workforce and training plans for sectors like health and social care. They say they would ensure there are "appropriate restrictions on visas".

The Liberal Democrats say they would introduce a "more flexible merit-based system" for work visas, working with employers in each sector to address specific needs "as part of a long-term workforce strategy that also focuses on education and training to address skills gaps from within the UK." They say they would also expand the Youth Mobility Scheme to "help address... labour shortages."

Reform UK say they would freeze non-essential immigration, and "essential skills, mainly around healthcare, must be the only exception."

The Green Party say they would push for an end to minimum income requirements for the spouses of people with work visas.

The SNP are calling for powers to be devolved to Scotland to "create a bespoke migration system" that "allows us to address our specific demographic and economic needs." They say that it should include "a rural visa pilot scheme."

What else are parties pledging?

The Conservatives say that, if they are re-elected, they will deliver on pledges previously made in government, such as upgrading the Cumbrian coast railway line. They say they would provide "guaranteed investment" to improve pinch points on the A75 between Gretna and Stranraer, and point to £5m for evaluating proposals to extend the Borders Railway from Tweedbank through Hawick to Carlisle. They also say they would "pursue the extension" of a low-tax 'Enhanced Investment Zone' planned for Northern Ireland to also cover Stranraer and Cairnryan.

Labour say they would develop a ten-year infrastructure strategy, with priorities including improving rail connectivity across the North of England.

The Liberal Democrats say they would give councils new powers to control second homes and short-term lets, including allowing them to increase council tax by up to 500% and creating a new planning class for these properties.

Reform UK say they would "accelerate transport infrastructure", focusing on the North of England and coastal regions.

The Green Party say they would ensure there is a bus service to every village in rural areas.

The SNP say they will "press the UK Government to fulfil their commitment to fund improvements to the A75."

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