Lifelong leadership learning in Cumbria

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Cumbria Coal Mine Debate

In May 2021, Cumbria Future Leaders facilitated a “Your Voice” event for young people in Cumbria to hear from leading professionals, and debate for and against the proposed new coal mine in Whitehaven, Cumbria. You can watch the full event recording below. 

Ahead of the public enquiry commencing in September, ITV Border conducted and broadcast a further debate. Vice-chair of the Cumbria Future Leaders Steering Group, Emmy Richardson, represented the youth voice. 

Your Voice Thursday 27th May 2021 – Is the proposed new coal mine good or bad for Cumbria?

Event recording and more information on the speakers and their statements for and against the mine below.

During the recording, the following links are referred to

From SPEAKER – Rebecca Willis:

From SPEAKER – Rebecca Willis:
Evidence from Professor Paul Ekins OBE:

Against the proposed mine

Rebecca Willis


Rebecca Willis is a Professor in Practice at Lancaster Environment Centre, where she holds a Fellowship in energy and climate governance. She was an Expert Lead for Climate Assembly UK, the Citizens’ Assembly established by the UK Parliament. Rebecca is a Trustee of the New Economics Foundation and an adviser to the National Lottery’s Climate Action Fund. She features on the Woman’s Hour Our Planet Power List which highlights 30 women making an impact by helping to protect our planet.  Her book, Too Hot To Handle? The democratic challenge of climate change was published by Bristol University Press in March 2020. Previously, she was an adviser to government, as vice-chair of the Sustainable Development Commission.

You can read Rebecca’s Statement against the proposed coal mine here.

For the proposed mine

Trudy Harrison


A proud West Cumbrian, Trudy started her career at Sellafield working across site in a variety of roles. The birth of her first daughter, Gabrielle, prompted a career in childcare which led to voluntary roles at her children’s school.  She worked on sustainable community projects in her home village prior to her election as Copeland’s first female MP in February 2017,

Parliamentary roles have included being a member of the Education Select Committee, co-chair of the Apprenticeship Delivery Board, membership of All Party Parliamentary Groups (APPG) for Nuclear Energy, Coalfield Communities, Autism and the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Trudy has also acted as Private Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Defence, Department for Transport, Department for Education and most recently to the Prime Minister.

You can read Trudy’s statement for the proposed coal mine here.

Cllr Giles Archibald


Cllr Giles Archibald has just retired from his role as leader of Southlakeland District Council, a role he held for five years.  Giles is an actuary by training, and during his career held various senior posts at a large multinational consulting company. In addition to a Maths degree,  he has  completed a History undergraduate course, and is currently completing a Masters in Climate Change and Development at the University of London. Giles is married and lives with his wife in Kendal.

You can read Giles’s statement against the proposed coal mine here.

Mike Starkie


Mike Starkie was voted in as Copeland’s first Elected Mayor in 2015 and was re-elected in 2019 to serve for a second term.

Mike represents the Council on the Britain’s Energy Coast Cumbria Board, the Copeland Community Fund Board, West Cumbria Site Stakeholder Group and the Cumbria Local Enterprise Partnership

Born and bred in West Cumbria Mike is married with two children and has spent the last 30 years of his career in the financial sector with senior roles in companies including Pearl, Zurich and Axa.

He also runs his own financial services company established in 2013.

Mike has a keen interest in sport and was heavily involved with youth football, coaching Copeland schools in national festivals.

You can read Mike’s statement for the proposed coal mine here. 

Maggie Mason


Maggie Mason helped start South Lakes Action on Climate Change (SLACC) in 2007, and worked in Cumbria County Councils Planning department for 10 years until 2015.  In her spare time, she enjoys cycling, canoeing, planning and environmental issues and playing with her grandchildren.

You can read Maggie’s statement against the proposed coal mine here.

Mike Starkie


John Coughlan heads the leadership team at TSP Engineering.  He joined the company in 2014 with overall responsibility for driving strategy, operations and continuous business improvement. John possesses a significant record of delivering operational improvements, efficiencies and customer satisfaction across Europe, ASIA, North America and Mexico.  In 2016 John was named the UK Manufacturing Champions Manufacturing Leader, in 2018 he gained exemplar status in The Manufacturer Top 100, and  John was named Business Person of the Year in the 2019 In-Cumbria Awards. John also sits on the board of Cumbria LEP, sits on Workington Port Management Committee, chairs Workington Towns Fund Board and chairs Cumbria County Councils Independent Renumeration Panel.

You can read John’s statement for the proposed coal mine here. 

Lifelong Leadership Learning in Cumbria