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GENERAL ELECTION: All five Morecambe candidates vow to honour Eden Project funding

How the Eden Project Morecambe might look

Morecambe and Lunesdale candidates across all parties have committed to honouring the promised Eden Project funding should they be elected on July 4.

During an election debate at the Beyond Radio studio, all five politicians fighting it out for the Morecambe and Lunesdale seat said they fully back the planned new £100m attraction on Morecambe Promenade.

David Morris, whose Conservative government has put £50m towards the new Eden on the central Promenade, said: "If it doesn't go through, no matter what government is there, they will have me to answer to. And it will happen."

And his closest rival according to current polls, Lizzi Collinge of Labour, gave a "cast-iron guarantee" that the Labour Party would honour the funding should they win the election.

Their opponents Gina Dowding of the Green Party, Peter Jackson of the Liberal Democrats, and Barry Parsons of Reform UK, gave similar strong assurances.

"Eden has huge potential to revitalise the economy of the whole of Morecambe and the much wider area," said Gina Dowding.

"We need to make sure that it's local people that benefit and local businesses."

Peter Jackson said: "Eden is a fantastic opportunity. Morecambe is a brilliant place."

And Barry Parsons said: "I lived in Devon for quite some time, on the border of Cornwall. I'm very familiar with the Eden Project which is down in Cornwall, and I know what benefits it can bring."

LISTEN: Morecambe & Lunesdale 'Beyond the Ballot' debate - Beyond Radio

Mr Morris, who was first elected as MP in Morecambe and Lunesdale in 2010 and will be defending his seat on July 4, said he expected work on the site to begin in September.

All five candidates were also asked what they would do to ensure the Morecambe and Lunesdale area is ready for when Eden comes, and how they would ensure a proper public transport network is in place to deal with an expected massive influx of visitors.

The Morecambe and Lunesdale candidates are pictured below at the 'Beyond the Ballot' debate at the Beyond Radio studio. Pictured clockwise from top right, David Morris, Lizzi Collinge, Peter Jackson, Barry Parsons, Gina Dowding and host Beyond Radio's Greg Lambert.

Gina Dowding said: "It's essential that we don't allow all the traffic that could end up in the middle of Morecambe to go right into the residential areas and cause problems there, and we need that investment in public transport.

"My ask was can Lancashire (County Council) please prioritise the funding pot to invest in electrification of the railway between Lancaster and Morecambe, or battery operated trains."

In February, the government's Local Transport Fund gave nearly half a billion pounds to Lancashire - the most received by any county - from reallocated funds following the cancellation of the planned HS2 high speed rail link in the North last year.

Peter Jackson said: "We desperately need the transport infrastructure, electrification of the railway in one form or another is an essential. There is a plan to use the Park and Ride at Junction 34 of the M6 and provide bus transfer from there, that has some merit, but realistically we know a lot people will want to go by car.

"We will have to address the issue of car parking. There is a lot of space in the areas around the station where car parking is not available, but surface level parking may not be adequate for Eden Morecambe. We have to look at having some form of multi-storey parking. We have to avoid people cruising round the town looking for somewhere to park."

David Morris said: "Eden is already working for the community. You've started to see buildings being done up, more investment going in from hoteliers into the area, to cater for the expected influx of new tourism.

"(Lancaster and Morecambe College) is training up our youngsters to go into Eden Projects all around the world, not just in Morecambe.

"When you've got Heysham Port done up, we're talking about getting funding from the HS2 pot of money to upgrade the railway system from Lancaster to Morecambe. We need a new station there. And also upgrade the railway station up to Carnforth and down into Heysham too, down into the new Port area. There's a lot already going on.

"I got £5m unlocked from the £50m to get the bulldozers in, in September. So the government is already moving forward on getting the Eden Project built.

"You're right, there's not enough parking in the area. That really is a council issue."

Barry Parsons said: "It will bring problems in terms of getting the Project up and running. There's going to be a lot of disruption but at the end of the day, I'm convinced it will be absolutely worth it.

"We cannot expect central government to provide everything in terms of transport. Looking at community transport can be extremely beneficial."

Lizzi Collinge said: "In terms of public transport, I have also been lobbying the County Council in terms of improving that railway line. Better buses in local areas will be really important to make sure Morecambe and the surrounding area isn't overrun by visitors' cars. 

"It is a fantastic opportunity. We have accessible natural beauty in Morecambe, we have wonderful local businesses who are just ready to take on this opportunity and create more good jobs and more economic development for the area, and we have a Port ready for further investment under a Labour government.

"We have to be realistic about the risks and make sure we mitigate that ahead of time. We cannot wait for day one and for there to be problems and deal with them. We have to look ahead and maximise every benefit for local people."

Construction is due to begin on the new £100m attraction on the central Promenade later this year. Eden Project Morecambe is due to open for small-scale community-focussed test events in 2026 with a full opening in spring 2027.

The proposed Eden Project Morecambe is earmarked for 4.8 hectares of land on the central promenade in Morecambe, near the Midland hotel.

The mixed-use complex will be housed in shell-like domes and will combine indoor and outdoor attractions, themed around Morecambe Bay.

The facility is set to include plants, art and interactive exhibits, a concert area for live music events, three cafe/restaurants and a visitor centre. 

It will include:

  • Above the Bay/The Realm of the Sun: an environment filled with plants and art exhibits, showcasing natural abundance and the rhythms of life linked to the sun.
  • Below the Bay/The Realm of the Moon: an immersive series of theatrical experiences that bring to life lunar rhythms and tides.
  • The Natural Observatory: the home of Eden Project Morecambe's research and education programmes.

There will be "groundbreaking immersive experiences" and "a beautiful and sustainable architectural design".

It has been estimated that the Eden Project Morecambe would pull 740,000 visitors annually, as well as providing around 300 high-quality green jobs, plus more than 1,000 additional new jobs supported in the region.

The existing UK Eden Project visitor attraction in Cornwall has transformed the region's economy since opening in 2000.

Read more: GENERAL ELECTION: Morecambe and Lunesdale candidates lay out their visions for the future - Beyond Radio

GENERAL ELECTION: David Morris and Gina Dowding clash over housing in Morecambe & Lunesdale - Beyond Radio

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