Going nuclear in the drive to Net Zero

Jas Sidhu, President, of the Nuclear Institute

Nuclear energy, along with hydrogen, has been presented by the Conservative government as the solution to the UK’s energy crisis. The confirmation of funding to deliver the new Sizewell C power station is a welcome part of the Autumn financial package that places energy, along with infrastructure and innovation, at the heart of the Government’s priorities for the future.

In our new series, The Hardest Jobs in Net Zero, we explore the oxymorons of infrastructure – those roles that, on the surface, seem to be anything but sustainable.

Today, we speak to Jas Sidhu, president of the Nuclear Institute, to understand the role that nuclear energy can play in the drive to Net Zero by 2050.

“In terms of getting to Net Zero, the only viable option includes nuclear power,” begins Mr Sidhu “The consensus across major international institutions is that all low carbon technologies, including nuclear, will need to be deployed urgently and at scale in order to achieve Net Zero targets”.

 

Who leads who?

For Jas, the changing policy priorities of successive Governments has seen the initiative for nuclear development stall significantly.

“Nuclear energy generates between 15 – 20% of our nation’s electricity at the moment. This is scheduled to decrease because of the current fleet of gas cooled reactors reaching end of life. There’s a lot of talk, but it all needs investment, which the Government needs to facilitate asap.”

There is hope for the future, with organisations within the nuclear sector driving that change. The Nuclear Institute’s Young Generation Network (YGN) is a key part of driving that change.

“The YGN has been in existence for over 20 years and currently consists of approximately 1,250 members. The YGNs position paper, ‘Nuclear for Climate’ is a grassroots initiative gathering nuclear professionals with the goal of opening a dialogue with policymakers and the public about the necessity of including nuclear energy among the carbon-free solutions to climate change. Its vision is for a clean, sustainable and abundant low-carbon future for all. Our mission is to accelerate the ability of the world to achieve Net Zero by 2050, by driving collaboration between nuclear and renewable technology.”

Presently, the sector is developing new technologies, but is dependent upon the Government to take action to unlock further progress, similar to that which it has done for other industries.

“If you look at battery storage, British industries put forward a strong business case, which the Government supported because they understood it was in the national interest. That hasn’t happened at the same pace with nuclear investment. It cannot simply be left to market forces to deliver critical national infrastructure. The state needs to have a greater influence in facilitating the delivery of future nuclear technology. Serious investment is needed and although you may not see the results for 10 to 15 years, it is critical to undertake.”

 

Behavioural change is key to drive new skills and talent

Jas’s own journey into nuclear began from witnessing the industry’s greatest tragedy. As a sixth form student in April 1986, watching the disaster in Chernobyl, near Pripyat in Ukraine, unfold before him, Jas was as encouraged as he was abhorred by the tragedy, which propelled him on the path to studying nuclear engineering.

“I was at school – studying A-levels in maths, physics and music – and that one event inspired me to study nuclear engineering.”

Drawing from his own journey, Jas emphasises the need to encourage STEM take-up at schools as a path into nuclear engineering for the next generation.

“From a nuclear industry point of view, attracting youngsters to study STEM in the first place is one of our priorities. From that, we can facilitate a greater pool of talent coming into the nuclear industry.”

There is a danger that there will be a gap between the current generation of nuclear engineers and those of future generations of graduates. The risk, for Jas, is not simply for the future energy security of the UK, but the defence of the realm itself.

“We have 65,000 staff employed in civil nuclear industries and a further 20,000 in national defence. We have amazing talent but an ageing workforce that needs to be replaced by future generations of students coming to join the nuclear industry.”

For Jas, action needs to be taken early in the education cycle, broadening awareness and interest for nuclear technologies in the classroom. This necessitates the recruitment of teachers with the right expertise and enthusiasm for the sector.

“Getting teachers on message will be critical to ensuring it is made accessible to students. Including studies on the curriculum is not enough unless you have teachers who are buying into it as well – and it’s on the industry to ensure that happens”

 

Collaboration is critical

While interaction between partners in the sector is not uncommon, Jas admits that a shared approach towards addressing the challenges of the sector is needed.

“We often have discussions with partners, such as the National Nuclear Laboratory. Issues relating to recruitment, training and supply chains are all common . We all like talking to each other, but we are less good at broadcasting outside of the industry. This is partly because of the industry’s history, but this needs to change to reach a more public channel.”

What of the existing energy companies in the fossil fuel industry? Does collaboration occur there also?

“There is this perception that the pursuit of net zero will lead to mass redundancies in the fossil fuel workforce. However, we are open to employing scientific and engineering professionals in the nuclear industry, who started their careers in fossil fuels.”

Jas’ comments demonstrate the necessity for the nuclear industry to rebrand its image in public perception. The Chernobyl disaster, which propelled Jas on his trajectory towards a nuclear career, also casts a heavy shadow in the minds of people today. Along with Fukushima more recently, these incidents make a disproportionate impact on the image of the nuclear industry.

Nuclear energy is going to play a large part of the mixed renewable energy mix in future. Therefore, the present anxieties towards the perceived dangers of the industry need to be overcome.

It is critical for both the UK’s energy and defence security that this narrative can be reconstructed and delivered through a comprehensive and continued campaign. Without this, the opportunity to encourage greater emphasis in school curriculums and routes into jobs within the sector will not be achieved.

 

Find out more about Jas and the team’s efforts to achieve net zero here.

And stay tuned to Copper’s channels for more articles in our search for The Hardest Jobs in Net Zero.

 

The logistics sector is the backbone of the UK economy. It accounts for £55bn of the UK GDP, 1.7m jobs, and underpins how we function day-to-day, both in business and our everyday lives. But what does the public think about the sector and how do communities respond to large-scale logistics hubs?

Changes in shopping patterns alone have accelerated the growth of the logistics industry. COVID-19 shifted the onus onto online shopping, with more and more people abandoning district centre shopping in favour of ordering from their laptop or smartphone.

The likes of Amazon and other online retailers were the main beneficiaries, whilst supermarkets also adapted. In total, online sales grew by over 20% during the period of lockdowns between 2020 and 2021.

 

53 football pitches

To accommodate the growth in demand, more and more land is required for warehousing and logistics hubs. In fact, the equivalent of 53 football pitches is required across Europe to fulfil demand in the next few years.

However, it’s clear that our planning legislation has been slow to catch up. Local Plans are still very residential focused, with employment (or commercial) land sometimes counted as an after-thought when local authorities draw up their development frameworks. As well as this, public attitudes towards logistics development does not always align with the growth in demand.

 

Economic gains drive support

To help understand the challenges facing the sector and also to provide insight on how best to work with communities in developing logistics proposals, Copper commissioned detailed research into how the logistics development is perceived by people across the UK.

Our findings have uncovered some interesting considerations and with it helped us in providing some key recommendations:

  • There is broad degree of understanding that the development of employment land is necessary:
    • 67% would support the development of logistics centres because of the employment opportunities they would bring
    • 61% cited economic growth as a reason for support
  • There is a degree of misunderstanding about how the logistics sector functioned, meaning educating communities on what logistics is and how it functions is required.

 

Changing perceptions

To assist with tackling these issues, we have developed four key recommendations for the sector based on the research we commissioned:

  1. More collaboration with local authorities is required to develop shared goals and objectives
  2. People are largely supportive of the economic importance of the logistics sector and therefore should be front and centre of any proposals
  3. There is a degree of misunderstanding about the sector, therefore an education programme on its importance and way it works is required
  4. Early engagement is key. Working with communities in developing proposals and schemes will minimise challenge and problems.

Now, these steps are not a magic bullet for all logistics development. However, we are introducing these thoughts as part of a conversation to build stronger collaboration between the sector, communities and local authorities. It’s clear that demand for logistics development is growing, but without the necessary land or planning approvals the sector will stall.

It’s clear that there is a huge amount of opportunity for the logistics sector to work with communities and local authorities to meet the growing demand for logistics development. However, engagement and positioning is key to ensure proposals are welcomed.

 

To find out more about our research and findings visit Logistics-Report.pdf (copperconsultancy.com)

Copper Consultancy, one the UK’s leading specialist communications agencies, has expanded its UK reach by opening a new office in Manchester.

Based in the Northern Quarter in the heart of the city centre, the opening is a signal of intent for the agency which was recently acquired by RSK Group, the global environmental solutions firm.

Copper specialises in developing innovative communications strategies for companies and organisations across the infrastructure and built environment sector, supporting clients including National Grid, National Highways, the Department for Levelling Up and Communities & Housing, the Department for Transport.

The opening of the new northern base, along with its new relationship with RSK Group, will provide a strong foundation to further deliver its award-winning work for current clients as well as expanding into new sectors.

The consultancy is actively recruiting in Manchester and will offer communications professionals a rewarding and exciting career opportunity.

The office will be led by Copper’s Strategic Director for Economic Development, Tom Morrison, who has over 15 years’ experience of working across Northern England.

Managing Partner, Martin McCrink, said:

“Our new Manchester base will provide a great platform to deliver for clients, existing and new. As we grow, we are keen to attract the best talent across the north to our business. Our talented team takes on some of the most important challenges for our clients and were keen for more communications professionals to join us on our journey.

Strategic Director, Tom Morrison, said:

“The future is very bright for us and I am excited for the next chapter in our story.

“The last few months have seen exciting developments for Copper. As well as the announcement of our partnership with RSK Group, we have celebrated a host of new client wins across the water, energy, change management and construction sectors.

“Copper has a strong track record in the region. We’re keen to build upon this work and support our clients, central and local government drive even more investment into the North.”

The new office address is: Fourways House 57 Hilton Street Manchester M1 2EJ

The very words ‘airspace change consultation’ present a complicated and technical picture that will seem somewhat irrelevant for many people.

With the forthcoming airspace change coming for many airports around the UK, we’re giving our key considerations, challenges and top tips to cut through the noise and make consultations as straight-forward and useful as possible.

 

Key considerations

Airspace change consultations are a requirement. This immediately puts engagement in risk of being run haphazardly, or as a tick-box exercise or afterthought with little thought about the audience.

The first, and most important consideration, is that a consultation is an opportunity to build relationships with your local stakeholders.

Instead of viewing this as a task, flip the script and get excited about creating new touchpoints, new collateral and vocalise the positive work you’re doing.

Consultation events present a fantastic opportunity for you to learn what people like and dislike, what matters most to the community and ultimately, to hear what they want. This point of contact doesn’t come around too often, so use it to reflect, review and revive your communications.

 

Challenges

Airspace change is confusing.

There is an abundance of technicalities that affect the operational delivery of an airport. But in reality, this will not impact your consultation attendees.

People want to know how this will affect their day-to-day life. Questions like:

          Will it be noisy over my child’s nap time?

          Will I see that plane from my favourite garden seat?

          Will I notice the difference on weekends?

We must not forget that airspace changes do affect people’s lives and it can have an impact on their everyday routines.

With that said, consultation gives you the chance to directly address these concerns. Getting people on the ground in the local communities to openly discuss, manage expectations and level concerns will go a long way to help relationships with your stakeholders. Through open dialogue and acknowledging the challenges, you can clearly set out the steps you’re taking that will mitigate adverse impacts.

 

Top tips for consultation:

  1. Technology is your friend: When it comes to something as technical as airspace change, if there is a way to present information in an engaging and exciting way, it should be worth considering. There are brilliant tools to help show changes to airspace, from interactive maps, virtual reality, and noise pollution simulations. Where possible, use it. Of course, budget dictates the art of the possible so choose where to invest.

 

  1. Visuals over written: When speaking or presenting to stakeholders on airspace change, language can sound scary.

 

  1. Plain English is key: Where possible, simplify the language to plain English and refrain from using technical jargon. When considering what ‘plain English’ looks like, a simple tip is to imagine explaining it to your family. If the information is not sensitive, you could actually ask them to read it. If they understand, great! If they don’t, more can be done to help land the messaging. If you can’t find a way of explaining in plain English, ask whether it would be better as a visual, or whether you need to include it in public-facing materials at all.

 

  1. Have people on the ground: While digital-first can streamline engagement, digital-only is a dangerous precedent to set and strips out the important relationship-building that people value and your team needs to carry out. Organising accessible and inclusive events within the local community provide opportunity for informal interaction. Through showing visual graphics, audio simulations and Q&A slots, you are opening the door to meaningful interaction with stakeholders.

 

To chat about your upcoming work and how we can help, email Sophie.Pearce@copperconsultancy.com

‘The future of urban futuring.’

This is the tagline greeting you when you visit betterstreets.ai – a simple, no-frills landing page that gets straight to the point. What founder and artist Zach Katz instead wants you to focus on is what he’s offering; a unique window into a world no longer burdened by clogged-up road networks, dangerous pedestrian footpaths and unsightly roadworks.

We held our first Active Travel Webinar in June, in which a key conversation topic was centred around ‘the battle for road space’.  From this, it was suggested by our panellists that the UK’s archaic road network was not fit for purpose to yet promote modal shift.

Moving forward with Active Travel – Copper Consultancy

 

Fans of the television show Westworld will know that Season 4 has reimagined New York City as an almost car-free city, apart from a few autonomous vehicles. The show sees characters walking through quiet pedestrianised streets dotted with plazas, green spaces and an abundance of outdoor seating; a complete juxtaposition of the New York we all know today. This high-budget, polished CGI is captivating, but what do you do when you don’t have a multi-million dollar HBO budget? And what if you want to see the same, but in Slough?

Better Streets has brilliantly highlighted the potential of our existing streets.

The AI software uses text inputs to create a unique image, transforming any traffic-laden street into a bustling pedestrian walkway, a cycle-led active travel route or a grassy tram route in seconds.

The renders aren’t perfect, but they are igniting people’s imagination and, perhaps most importantly, getting more and more people talking about the alternatives to our current travel network. As we look to further embrace multi-modal transport systems in our towns and cities, a simple and relatively cheap piece of technology such as this could be the spark needed.

Copper understands the power that visualisation can have on audiences, enabling them to engage with complex infrastructure projects and understand exactly how it may affect them. This, in turn, enables us to have honest and open conversations. We can work with you to produce animations, renders and other visual-based engagement activities to enhance your project or programme of improvements.

As Katz says: “visualising things is the most powerful way to effect change”.

 

By Pearce Branigan, Senior Account Manager.

The publication of the Government’s Jet Zero strategy marked a watershed moment for the aviation industry. The document is one of the most far-reaching and significant aviation policies published to date, adding flesh to the bones of how the industry will meet net zero by 2050.

Having supported clients to be among the 1,500 that submitted responses to the Jet Zero consultation, it was heartening to see that the UK Government had taken a bold, albeit challenging, approach. The target seeks to halve the carbon emissions produced between 2019 and 2050, with domestic flights (which comprise 4 per cent of total UK aviation emissions) being given until 2040 to achieve this. This trajectory to 2050 is based on the “high ambition” scenario, setting industry targets of:

  • 4 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent in 2030 – which is equivalent to the annual energy usage of five million UK homes.
  • 7 reduction year on year from 2030 to 2040, reaching 28.4 million tonnes or reduction of 7 million tonnes on 2030 limit by 2040.
  • 91 reduction year on year from 2040 to 2050, reaching 19.3 million tonnes or a 9.1 million tonnes reduction on 2040 limit by 2050.

The Government intends to implement this through an emission reduction trajectory for the industry, annually monitoring progress and undertaking bi-decadal reviews. The ambition should be welcomed, but serious consideration should be given to whether the targets themselves are achievable and what they depend on.

The five-year delivery plans will be assessed through six methods: system efficiencies; Sustainable Aviation Fuels (SAFs); zero emission flights; markets and removals; influencing consumers; and addressing non-carbon emissions.

Winging it?

The Government has made great claim of its proactive approach. This has included investing £180 million in research and development for SAFs, committing to having five plants under construction by 2025, along with the introduction of zero carbon aircraft.

However, these actions only account for 21 per cent of the intended carbon reductions in the industry up to 2050. Fuel efficiency improvements for airport operations, including the maintenance and refueling of planes along with the ancillary tasks associated with aviation account for a further 15 per cent of the intended carbon reductions in the industry up to 2050.

 

 

The mainstay of the strategy is dependent on existing emissions caps in the form of the UK Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) and the United Nations Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme (CORSIA), which are expected to deliver over 27 per cent of carbon reductions by 2050. The ambition is that the same (or greater) numbers of flights will occur, but improvements in technology and fuel efficiency will enable the industry not only to avoid breaching the threshold for emissions, but actually lowering them.

Although the technology is there to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050, by the strategy’s own admission it is ‘dependent on technological development proceeding at the same rate’ to achieve this. There is no certainty that the required technological innovation will continue at the same rate and if it doesn’t, the UK will have to rely on other areas to cover the shortfall in emission reductions.

As for the remaining 37 per cent, this will come from abatement outside the aviation industry, with no suggestion as to who, what or how this will be achieved.

Where the buck stops

The timing of Jet Zero’s publication occurs at a significant juncture in public opinion. The looming cost of living crisis, with fuel costs rising, has dampened appetite for environmentally inclined public spending and taxes. For some, the cost associated with achieving net zero is proving unappealing.

This brewing frustration has influenced a shift in the rhetoric of the governing party over the previous 10 months. The excitement following the UK’s hosting of COP26 in October 2021 towards achieving net zero remains, but there is now a growing difference of opinion about how to get there. For example, the Foreign Secretary and Prime Ministerial candidate Liz Truss’ proposal to temporarily cut green energy levies, which is at odds with the accepted dogma of 10 months ago to increase or even impose more.

With the medical requirements to travel abroad all but rescinded, the UK population has been returning to enjoy international travel. Households already feeling the pinch of the energy crisis may become less inclined to support the drive to net zero when their annual holiday plans are impacted. Low-income families who anticipate the two-week holiday abroad as a necessity for their own mental and physical wellbeing during the working year may be at the core of future net zero scepticism, when the levies which will drive forward net zero make their yearly holidays unaffordable. This raises the question: has the drive to decarbonise aviation focussed on winning over the aviation industry, while failing to bring the public along as well?

An innovation nation

With public expenditure likely to be reduced after the significant burden of managing the UK’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Government must consider alternative measures to financial investment to achieve Jet Zero. Whether easing the pathway to visas for specialists working in this area of research, or by agreeing trade deals with nations who have the materials needed to build these technologies, innovation will be key to unlocking the carbon reductions needed to meet net zero in aviation and the UK by 2050.

For the people, without the people?

The Government should ensure that they engage with the public across all net zero policies, so that their input is both credibly sought and applied. The inherent risk with the Government’s current approach of engaging separate industries and not the wider public, is that implementing a policy for the benefit of the UK population, without consulting the population, may cause their concerns to go unheeded. If no action is taken to register or address any outstanding concerns, then it may prove that sections of the population become indifferent, or even opponents of the very drive towards net zero.

 

The £2.35 billion Towns Fund is at the heart of the government’s Levelling Up strategy, enabling economic growth and regeneration. And LEPs are involved in many of the 790 projects now planned across the country.

In 2020, the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities appointed the Towns Fund Delivery Partner (TFDP) to provide expert advice and support to the 101 towns involved in the fund, to secure and deliver their Town Deals. Now that the TFDP contract has ended, we reflect on the legacy it left for LEPs.

The TFDP represented a new way of working for government that would help shape future funding programmes. This way of working encourages collaboration with organisations, such as LEPs, to gain a richer understanding of local economic growth opportunities.

The TFDP engaged with 101 Town Deal Boards (TDBs) in total. Many TDBs are formed from a diverse group of local entrepreneurs and businesspeople, and many involve LEPs from their respective towns, demonstrating how the fund is committed to encouraging leadership from within communities themselves.

A major part of the TFDP, Copper Consultancy offered tailored community engagement support to towns. Working one-on-one with councils and TDB members, the company helped tackle a range of stakeholder engagement challenges, such as how to engage with local businesses and the private sector – two areas where the LEP Network was a key participant.

Through its work, more than 2,000 meetings with towns were held, 150 resources created, 129 blogs written, 400 service requests fulfilled and 792 projects started. Copper also helped shape Town Investment Plans (TIPs) and Business Cases to help towns build community involvement and offered advice on branding and how to carry it out, which can be viewed here.

  • Through its work, the progamme gave towns: Collective knowledge and capabilities through peer-to-peer place-based learning
  • New personal skills and training accreditation
  • A platform to collaborate and solve common challenges

For local people, businesses and communities, the TFDP Supported the creation of an environment where people and LEPs can shape the future of their towns and build confidence in new capabilities. While there is a lot still to do and hundreds of projects to realise, the groundwork for a lasting legacy has been laid.

To find out more about how Copper Consultancy can support your LEP with communications and engagement, please contact ronan.cloud@copperconsultancy.com.

Tom Morrison and Annabel John joined the Place North West Podcast to discuss all things consultations.

The conversation went through the do’s, the don’ts, tips on best practice, and how our work with HyNet provided huge consultation returns.

But perhaps most importantly, they both explained why focusing on engagement rather than the consultation process is far more important for people looking to develop proposals.

What is consultation?

As Annabel explains in the pod, consultation is a process that involves getting feedback from the public on a proposal. This feedback is then used to shape the design process. Put simply, it allows people to ‘have their say’ on what a proposal should look like.

Often consultations are statutory, or at least mandatory, and therefore required to happen before any proposals can be delivered.

But consultations are only successful if people engage with them. Without feedback from the people you want opinions from, proposals cannot be shaped effectively which can lead to problems further down the road.

Engage, Engage, Engage

The key to this, is engagement.

Any consultation, be it for a development, a policy, or a change of work practice, needs to generate enough truly meaningful feedback in order it to be effective. Therefore, engaging audiences is vital.

As Tom points out, “without engaging people, there is no point in consulting.”

But how do you drive engagement? Firstly, Annabel suggests looking outside of your scope and identifying audiences that might take an interest in your plans but who may not directly be impacted.

Often there will be interest groups, or organisations with compatible aims that can be used to generate helpful feedback and insight, which can improve proposals. Utilising these stakeholder groups can be invaluable in achieving community buy-in and delivering long lasting plans.

Elsewhere, Tom advocates the use of video and social media. Video and animation in particular can take complex topics and break them down into an easy-to-understand way, allowing people to build a better understanding of your ambitions, and therefore more likely to provide meaningful and useful feedback.

Ultimately, making sure you’re speaking to people in a way that generates a genuine two-way dialogue and encourages thoughts and opinion to be shared is vital to success. Without engagement, consultations simply won’t work and a huge opportunity to build community and stakeholder support will be missed.

Why not listen and let us know your thoughts?

In the true spirit of consultation, why not have a listen to the podcast and let us know what you think?

As Tom and Annabel explain, Copper works with clients from across the public and private sectors and have helped organisations on a variety of engagement and consultation strategies.

If there’s any particular issue you’d like to explore or get more information on, get in touch with Tom on tom.morrison@copperconsultancy.com

Transport Committee inquiry findings

Today, the Transport Committee has released its mixed inquiry findings into the Integrated Rail Plan, the £96Bn flagship government levelling up policy which set out how Northern Powerhouse Rail and HS2 would be integrated to deliver a network of high speed lines across the Midlands and the North.

While the committee report does welcome the scale of the Government’s promised spending on improving rail in the North and the Midlands, it is also starkly headlined with a critical assessment of how some of the options and the benefits of these were assessed. The report states that,

“A thorough reassessment of the Government’s Integrated Rail Plan is essential to ensure this once-in-a-generation investment in rail is not a missed opportunity to address regional imbalances”.

 

What is the Integrated Rail Plan?

On the back of the Oakervee review and following a final submission from the National Infrastructure Commission, a new Integrated Rail Plan for the Midlands and the North was announced in November 2021. It outlines how to develop and deliver HS2, Northern Powerhouse Rail, the Midlands Rail Hub, and major Network Rail Projects.

It was presented to Parliament by Transport Secretary Grant Shapps who pledged the investment would deliver faster and better journeys to more people across the North and the Midlands.

The views of the Transport for the North (TfN) Board, as one voice for the North, fed into the Integrated Rail Plan. The evidence reflected the ambition and vision of the North for the national rail network.

This work showed the vast capacity and journey time benefits that could be realised, alongside other investment in Transport for the North’s Strategic Transport Plan, which is in the process of being refreshed.

The Sub-National Transport Body Midlands Connect also provided evidence from the Midlands region.

 

What’s next?

With such a strong cross-party call for a review by many in regional political circles and by the committee, the new Prime Minister and their departments will undoubtedly have some tough decisions to make at a time where the North is questioning some of the levelling up policies that have been rolled out.

Just yesterday, a widely circulated report by IPPR North suggested that the gap in public spending between London and the North has doubled.

This coincided with a coordinated newspaper campaign in the region warning the Conservative leadership candidates against turning their back on the North.  Eyes are also firmly on what comes next for the promised £100m study to bring HS2 trains to Leeds, with the West Yorkshire Mayor Tracy Brabin describing it as being “left in limbo”.

However, while some wider regional connectivity has been scaled back, there have also been very welcome commitments to the TransPennine Route Upgrade, with spending trebled to £9bn to deliver more comprehensive East – West electrification between Manchester and York.

Despite the large investments needed to replace our Victorian infrastructure, it is clear that there is still huge support for rail spending in turbulent times.

With both Conservative leadership candidates pledging commitments to spur on new economic growth and with the ongoing need to tackle climate change, the North’s and Midlands’ rail plans could be a good place to start.

If you want to talk to us about how we can help with your infrastructure communications, then please get in contact with James Jordan.