Now that the dust has settled following the publication of the manifestos by Labour and the Conservatives, many are looking to see whether there is any greater clarity on their policies on carbon capture, utilisation and storage (CCUS), hydrogen and industrial clusters.

Industrial decarbonisation, CCUS and hydrogen has been one policy area that has seen relatively large-scale government intervention over the last few years. Clusters have emerged across the UK, and started to progress at different speeds. This has been supported by various funding schemes alongside private investment. But it remains early days in this process, and therefore the election comes at a pivotal time for the clusters and these industries.

 

Industrial clusters and CCUS

The Conservative manifesto effectively commits in high level terms. This would continue the mission they have already started on industrial and CCUS clusters.

The manifesto commits to building the first two carbon capture and storage clusters, based across North Wales, the North West of England and Teesside & Humber. This is referring to the HyNet and East Coast clusters which are already being developed at various speeds. Some areas of shared infrastructure progressing through the planning process and individual projects within these clusters advancing through the government’s cluster sequencing phases.

There is also a commitment to further expansion, which again, is a reference to plans by the current government to expand the clusters to cover Aberdeen and Humberside. It’s an area of energy policy under this government where there has already been plenty of state involvement. Nonetheless, industry will welcome the recommitment to this important area. Labour, by comparison, is committing £1 billion to accelerating deployment of carbon capture. It also wishes to invest in storage too, as part of its overall ‘Clean Power by 2030’ pledge. Labour intends to finance these industrial clusters in ‘every corner of the country’ via its National Wealth Fund.

Both parties remain committed to achieving net zero by 2050. Whilst Labour will likely continue with the cluster model, time will tell how they might deviate from existing plans. For example, how would they treat projects outside the clusters, and what other regions would be a priority for expansion?

 

Hydrogen

The home heating debate remains a difficult one for all political parties. Intriguingly, the manifestos do not provide a definitive answer. A bit more light is shed on the approach to industrial hydrogen.

The Tory manifesto only mentions hydrogen once. It does so in relation to a future government helping oversee the Scottish workplace transition to hydrogen, offshore wind, tidal and carbon capture. The current government previously published a hydrogen strategy. In that, it committed to an ambition for 10GW of low carbon hydrogen production capacity by 2030. It has supported a number of projects through hydrogen funding schemes. With this in mind, it is interesting to see this not given prominence in the manifesto.

Labour, however, gives more detail on where it would go on hydrogen. It plans to invest £500 million alone in supporting the manufacture of green hydrogen via its National Wealth Fund. It expects to do this in ‘every corner of the country’, suggesting a hydrogen strategy with a more nationwide focus.

 

Conclusion

Both parties share a commitment to a continuation of industrial and CCUS clusters. The Conservatives focus on Scotland, Wales and the North East, with plans for additional expansion. Industry will be pleased to see that both parties have some consensus on their value. However, a question mark remains over what Labour might do differently if they win on 4th July. Questions also remain about what other regions might come into play outside the existing clusters following a Labour victory.

The Conservatives provided less detail in their manifesto on plans for hydrogen, in spite of previous commitments on raising overall production capacity, which might give industry some pause for thought. Labour provided a more sweeping, costed strategy for green hydrogen. This might give more reassurance for industry on potential expansion in government investment in this field.

One thing is clear: there will be divergences over the scope of industrial and CCUS cluster and hydrogen policy depending on which party wins, but government investment will remain integral for all three areas for the time being.

 

Find more content around the General Election here. 

Account Director Aimée Howard shares her perspectives after canvassing in two very different Labour target seats. 

Last week, I had the invigorating experience of hitting the pavements for Labour. Canvassing in two very different constituencies, the London Borough of Chelsea & Fulham, and Southend West & Leigh in Essex. This underscored the diverse challenges and opportunities that come with political campaigning, and the critical need for grassroots engagement and detailed policy discussions to win over undecided voters.

 

Chelsea & Fulham: A New Labour Stronghold

In Chelsea & Fulham, the Labour campaign is riding high on a wave of optimism. This seat exemplifies Labour’s growing foothold in London, with candidate Ben Coleman predicted to win with a staggering 80%+ of the vote, according to Electoral Calculus. In the 2010 election, only five other constituencies across the country voted more strongly for the Conservative Party, and incumbent MP Greg Hands has never won with less than 49% of the vote. Once hailed as a pivotal figure in the Tories’ resurgence in London, Hands’ waning popularity mirrors a national trend of growing discontent with Conservative leadership.

The swing towards Labour was palpable on the streets. As I knocked on doors and spoke to residents, the conversations were overwhelmingly positive. Many people expressed strong support for Labour policies, praising Coleman’s work in the community, through his role as Deputy Leader of the Council, and his vision for the future of Charing Cross Hospital.

The atmosphere in Fulham & Chelsea felt almost celebratory. Volunteers were greeted with smiles and encouragement, and there was a sense of collective purpose. This stronghold for Labour is a testament to the party’s ability to connect with voters and address local concerns effectively. Coleman is a widely recognised figure, and his work in the local area to support military veterans was consistently raised on doorsteps.

Hands is certainly pulling out all the stops to retain his seat, even going so far as to take credit for Transport for London’s improvements to District Line services through his constituency. His potential defeat on 4 July would not only be a significant personal setback but could also continue the broader shift in London’s political landscape. With Kensington & Bayswater and Cities of London & Westminster also at risk of swinging to Labour, Hands’ loss could contribute to a complete ousting of Tory MPs from inner London.

 

Southend West & Leigh: The Battle for Hearts and Minds

In stark contrast, the atmosphere in Southend West & Leigh was one of intense competition and uncertainty. Strong Labour candidate David Burton-Sampson is facing a tough battle against Anna Firth. Firth won the old seat of Southend West in a by-election on 3 February 2022, following the tragic death of Sir David Amess in 2021. The seat has always retained a Conservative MP.

Canvassing in Southend West & Leigh required a different approach. The conversations were more nuanced, as many residents were still undecided or expressed mixed feelings about the candidates. We encountered a broad spectrum of opinions, from strong Labour supporters to staunch conservatives. However a significant number of voters were on the fence. Each conversation felt crucial, as every vote could potentially swing the outcome.

Issues such as crime rates, NHS funding, local infrastructure and water companies/pollution were top of the mind for many voters. Burton-Sampson’s campaign focuses on these community concerns. His personal approach to door knocking and having 1-1 conversations is crucial in swaying undecided voters and clarifying any misconceptions.

Despite the challenging environment, the spirit of the volunteers was noticeable. We were met with both support and skepticism, but each interaction reinforced the importance of grassroots campaigning.

 

The Power of Canvassing

Canvassing in these two constituencies highlighted the diversity within the electorate and the varied challenges of political campaigning. It showed  the importance of tailored messaging and the need for campaigners to adapt their strategies based on the local context. In areas with strong Labour support, reinforcing key messages and ensuring high voter engagement is essential. In more contested areas, the focus shifts to detailed policy discussions, addressing specific local issues, and building personal connections with voters.

Door-knocking and canvassing remain vital components of any successful campaign. They provide an invaluable opportunity to connect directly with voters, understand their concerns, and articulate how Labour’s policies can make a tangible difference in their lives. As we move closer to the 2024 general election, these grassroots efforts will be crucial in securing victories across the country, from strongholds to battlegrounds alike. Every conversation counts.

 

Find more content around the General Election here. 

On the 25th of April 2024, the Labour Party published a document called Get Britain Moving: Labour’s Plans to Fix Britain’s Railways. The document was a finalised policy brief, setting out the party’s already-announced plans to bring the Train Operating Companies (TOCs) under public control.  

 

The stated objective of this rail policy is to ensure that Britain’s railways are reliable, affordable, efficient, high quality, accessible and safe. Labour believes that the railways are currently failing, with unreliable services, unsustainable finances, fragmented governance and a lack of accountability.  

 

To achieve these objectives, Labour plans to establish a new public body called Great British Railways (GBR), which will oversee the management of both rail infrastructure and rail services, and ensure that all aspects of rail operations are integrated and work together. The Secretary of State for Transport will set out GBR’s priorities and hold the organisation to account for its performance, but GBR will operate as independently from Whitehall as possible. There will also be a new consumer watchdog, the Passenger Standards Authority, which will act on passengers’ behalf to ensure railway services act in the public interest.  

 

Labour has set out some practical examples of what they believe will be the benefits of their rail policy. These include a more seamless delay and fare refund system, a more integrated ticketing and fare structure, clear and higher standards for passenger service across the rail network, and better integration with other public transport modes, such as buses and trams. The party hopes to emulate state-run rail operators in other parts of Europe, such as SNCF in France or Renfe in Spain, which run rail infrastructure and services in their respective countries, but allow open access operators to also run rail services, ensuring that competition between operators reduces fares and increases the quality of service.  

 

However, there are two main critiques of Labour’s plans. The first is that the party is building on existing Conservative Party policy. The Conservative Government has already created the Great British Railways Transition Team, which is working to establish Great British Railways and prepare the rail industry for a change in governance structure. Labour states that many of their rail policies are based on the Williams Review, which the Government commissioned. The party has critiqued the government for failing to implement much of the Williams Review, but implementing all of its recommendations was always going to take time. 

 

More importantly, Get Britain Moving doesn’t commit to significant increasing investment in new rail infrastructure. Many of the shortcomings of the rail network Labour has identified are the result of a lack of capacity on the existing rail network, or infrastructure issues such as outdated signalling, overcrowded stations or congested rail junctions. The party may be overselling the benefits of a reorganisation of the railways, while failing to solve the root of the rail network’s issues. 

 

Regardless of the result of the next General Election, it is clear that Britain’s railways will undergo significant reform. The establishment of GBR will result in a more regulated and centrally-controlled railway, providing a clear line of governance but reducing scope for private sector investment and innovation. Labour is keen to make GBR a success, but improving the railways will require effective integration of the existing rail operators and Network Rail under the GBR umbrella, effective cooperation between GBR and devolved transport bodies such as Transport for Greater Manchester, and a significant and sustained investment in rail infrastructure.  

The starting gun has been fired and the General Election is now underway. We’ve had a debate already, and a few twists and turns have already taken place.

At Copper, we’re lucky to employ people from across the political spectrum and have used their knowledge and experience to help clients navigate policies and procedures at a local, regional and national level.

Some of these people will now be writing a blog each week to talk about what it’s like on the ground during an election campaign. Whilst the newspapers and broadcasters focus on the gossip and big policy announcements, our writers will explain how candidates communicate with voters, how lobbying can become an unnecessary pain to campaign teams, and how the actions of hundreds of thousands of volunteers across the country will dictate who runs our country for the next five years.

 

And so…. Let me begin.

You’ll be forgiven for thinking that as a Parliamentary Candidate in a target seat, I would have been given some sort of notice about an impending General Election.

You may think that I would have been summoned to a meeting about two weeks out to go through the election plans and key messages the party would fight on.

You may also think that when an election is announced, a Parliamentary Candidate would have been immediately surrounded by suited and booted aides and strategists, telling them what to say, what to wear and which media outlets to be talking to.

 

The reality though is very different.

The first I knew there was an election coming was after I received a WhatsApp message from the Regional Campaigns Manager – “This is very likely to happen, will call you when off the train”.

An hour later and I was briefed that the election was in fact coming and we would have to do three things:

  1. Get out our “flying start” leaflet to all 40,000 houses in the constituency within 72 hours
  2. Call and write to all of our members and volunteers to get them ready for the six week campaign
  3. Call all our donors and ask them to help fund the campaign

 

While this was happening, text messages, WhatsApp messages, Facebook, Instagram and X DMs were all coming in with people asking if they could help, whether I knew anything about why it was called, and even if I needed anyone to cook me dinner!

I was incredibly lucky to have a fantastic team behind me already. Our campaign organiser, our one fulltime member of staff, had already instructed our volunteer deliverers to get our leaflet out, and had set up the campaign HQ to welcome a raft of other volunteers from across Greater Manchester. Whilst my Agent (the person legally responsible for the campaign) had already sorted the paperwork for my nominations and was on route to bring them to me for signing.

The fact is, we were prepared months ago for any likelihood of a “snap election”. But despite this, we had no warning whatsoever, and it does appear the same for candidates (and MPs) in other parties, including the Conservatives.

 

Caught by surprise?

Shortly after Rishi Sunak called the General Election, The Times reported that a leaked email from Conservative HQ had blamed various candidates and MPs for the bad start the party had to the election. The email stated that some people were on holiday, whilst others had not raised enough money, or been active enough in the community.

It does make it seem that no one was expecting this election, including the Party that runs the Government.

Clearly, when the smoke settles and the campaigning stops, the story of why this election was called will come out and we will get a better understanding of what made Rishi Sunak go to the country on the 22 May 2024, just week after being beaten soundly in the local elections.

But until then, we can only speculate and for some of us, we have many doors to knock on until that point.

 

Tom Morrison is a Strategic Director in Copper’s Economic Development practice and the Parliamentary Candidate for the Liberal Democrats in Cheadle.

With just four weeks to go until the country goes to the polls, the leaders of the UK’s two main parties locked horns in the first head-head debate. 

The debate was centred around the issues that polling suggests are the core issues for voters, namely; the economy, the NHS and immigration. Labour leader Keir Starmer sought to attack the Conservative government record, whilst Rishi Sunak sought to project his party as the safe option – for both the economy and national security. 

 

A Fiery Exchange  

For millions, this was a first opportunity to see the two party leaders battle it out on their TV screens, and was punctuated by several moments in which the argument boiled over, as both leaders spoke over one another and their moderator. 

For Sunak, the aim was to convey a message that the economy was safe under the Conservatives, that the economy was growing and that a future Conservative government would cut taxes and invest in the NHS and schools to continue to deliver prosperity. His message was that an incoming Labour government would put economic progress at risk, and raise taxes, citing a report that he said showed Labour policies would cost households £2,000 each in total. This statistic was repeated several times during the debate, but its veracity was challenged. 

Following the debate, Sir Keir accused Sunak of breaking the ministerial code for lying to the country in making the £2,000 tax claim. Sunak faces a further headache, as James Bowler, chief Treasury civil servant, wrote to Labour Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Darren Jones, clarifying that Sunak’s assessment of Labour’s tax plans in this instance shouldn’t “be presented as having been produced by the civil service.” 

Sir Keir Starmer outlined what he viewed as 14 years of ‘Conservative chaos’, focusing specifically on the 49-day premiership of Sunak’s predecessor, Liz Truss, and the negative impact of her administration’s mini-budget in September 2022. Following the pandemic and the mini-budget shock, Starmer claimed the Conservatives had already presided over a tax burden at its highest level in 75 years. 

 

Climate, environment and energy policy 

In keeping with the campaign so far, climate change and the environment were not top of the agenda. However, there was a short segment that saw the leaders pressed on this issue. Sunak spoke to the concerns his own daughters had about climate change, but added that bold decisions had to be taken to ensure greater energy security and lower energy bills. He attempted to sting Starmer with a claim that Labour would effectively ban North Sea energy, including oil and gas extraction, and that bills would be higher under a Labour government. He also suggested that Labour would mandate households to switch to hydrogen boilers and heat pumps, which he suggested would equate to a cost of up to £7,000. 

Starmer framed this as an opportunity to present Labour’s proposal for Great British Energy, a publicly-owned energy company which he claimed would generate profits to be invested back into public services, provide energy security and lead to a reduction in energy bills. The Conservatives, on the other hand, he claimed, by slowing down their climate change plans, would cost the taxpayer more money than under a Labour government by 2030. 

 

Poll Watch 

A flash poll by YouGov after the debate found voters believing Sunak narrowly won the debate by 51% to Sir Keir Starmer’s 49%.  Subsequent polls by Savanta and JL Partners gave Starmer a victory. The overall feeling is the debate wasn’t enough to shift the dial, with voting intention polls from across the UK’s polling companies presenting a consistent message: Labour leads the Conservatives by roughly 20 points, and this would potentially be enough to deliver a Labour landslide victory on 4th July. 

The election campaign is expected to see further such debates in the coming weeks, with both Sunak and Starmer hoping their respective views will cut through with the electorate. Moving forwards, it’s possible to see the Conservatives intend to use tax and immigration to appeal to voters, whereas Labour will be seeking to criticise the government’s record and making the argument for a change in government. 

A week is a long time in politics, and anything can happen. Just imagine what could happen over the next four. 

Welsh First Minister loses vote of no confidence 

It has been quite the month in Welsh politics – for a country that usually stays out of the political spotlight, a lot has happened recently. 

First Minister Vaughan Gething last night (Tuesday 5 June) lost a no-confidence vote in his leadership. The vote passed 29 votes to 27 and came just 77 days after he was elected.  

The Welsh Conservatives, Plaid Cymru, and the Liberal Democrats all called for the Labour leader to resign – but Gething vowed to “carry on doing my duty”. Two of his Welsh Labour colleagues were too ill to take part in the vote. 

 

So, what’s happened? 

The Welsh Conservatives forced the vote after weeks of rows about donations to his leadership campaign.  

Gething’s decision to accept this money was met with intense scrutiny from opposition and Labour benches alike. His opponent for the top job, Jeremy Miles MS, said that he would not have accepted the donation. 

This situation intensified when news broke of Hannah Blythyn MS’s sacking as the Welsh Government Minister for Social Partnership for allegedly leaking information to the media 

This was followed closely by Plaid Cymru’s decision to end their co-operation agreement with the Welsh Government seven months earlier than planned. Plaid leader, Rhun Ap Iorwerth, in a statement released by Plaid Cymru, said that Mr Gething’s decision not to pay back the controversial donation “demonstrates a significant lack of judgement”.  

The ending of this agreement freed ap Iorwerth to scrutinise the Government without needing to worry about complex relations and formal working arrangements. It also left Welsh Labour having to look again at how they approach passing the Welsh Budget through the Senedd.  

 

What could happen next? 

Despite the nature of a vote of no-confidence, the one which took place last night won’t force a resignation from the embattled First Minister. Only votes tabled in the name of the Welsh government can, not votes in the name of an individual minister. 

This means Mr Gething doesn’t have to resign and it isn’t expected that he will – but the result of the vote only adds to the growing pressure that is already on him. 

The timing of this vote couldn’t have come at a worse time for Welsh Labour with the party ahead in the polls for the upcoming general election. 

All eyes will be on UK Labour to see how Keir Starmer responds, having previously defended the First Minister and recently attended the Welsh Labour campaign launch shoulder to shoulder with Gething in Monmouth.  

Discipline and unity are key to both Welsh and the changed UK Labour party. Will Welsh Labour MSs break rank in the coming days and put public pressure on the First Minister? 

If Starmer remains ahead in the polls, that will provide political coverage for Gething. However, if that lead looks to waver at all – especially following Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s tax attack during the ITV Leader’s debate – then we may see Starmer distance himself from Gething.  

If Vaughan Gething were to resign, his tenure as Wales’s First Minister would be the shortest in history for this young legislature, beating Alun Michael who was First Secretary of Wales for just under 9 months. 

Could Vaughan Gething be Wales’s shortest serving First Minister? Only time will tell. 

 

How Copper can help you navigate the political landscape ?

Copper has teamed up with BMG (both part of the RSK group) to offer a bespoke weekly election polling service, offering unique insight and data on energy and infrastructure. For example, how well understood is Great British Energy? How important is net zero as the campaign progresses? See this week’s report here 

Reach out and get in touch with Copper’s Wales Lead, Lisa Childs, for more intel and advice on how to navigate the Senedd, or to book your General Election briefing session.   

The breakdown

Network Rail’s Control Period 7 (CP7) delivery plan sets out their planned activities, outputs and expenditure of operating, maintaining and renewing the mainline railway infrastructure in Great Britain in the period 1 April 2024 to 31 March 2029.  

In recent months, winners have been announced for different contracts across Network Rail’s 5 regions. The headline figure of £44bn has been split across different elements of the railway:  

  • £19.3bn on renewals  
  • £12.6bn on maintenance with regions spending 6% more on maintenance activity compared with CP6 
  • £5.3bn on support functions  
  • £4.4bn on operations  
  • £1.8bn ‘risk fund’  

The winners so far…

In March 2024, Network Rail appointed Liz Baldwin as its director for Southern Integrated Delivery (SID), part of the Southern Renewals Enterprise (SRE) responsible for delivering the £9bn renewals portfolio. Four partners have been selected for this region; VolkerFitzpatrick, Octavius, VolkerRail and Atkins.  

In the North West and Central Region, Network Rail announced the winners for its £2bn capital works delivery frameworks. Amongst the winners are Kier, Skanska, Octavius, Murphy and Story. In the Eastern Region, Network Rail has announced the 15 firms that will work on its £3.5bn Eastern Routes Partnership. These include Amey, Octavius, Keltbray, Morgan Sindall, AmcoGiffen and Bam Nuttall amongst others.  

 

Challenges to delivery

Within the £44bn, Network Rail is also planning to invest around £2.8bn in activities and technology that will help the railway cope with climate change and extreme weather. Which is the biggest challenge the railway currently faces according to Network Rail CEO Andrew Haines.  

One of the key challenges to delivering CP7 is the lack of a rail investment strategy that includes a concrete commitment to an enhancement plan. For the objectives and commitments of CP7 to be met there needs to be a clear directive from the Government outlining which rail schemes in Network North, the IRP and the Rail Network Enhancements Pipeline it intends to bring forward over the next five years. By setting a clear vision the Government can help Network Rail and the Rail industry supply chain to work together to undertake the renewals and enhancements funded by CP7 that delivers value for money for both rail customers and taxpayers.  

 

Leadership merry-go-round

Challenges to delivery come down to a lack of certainty. Over the past 5 years we have had 4 different Prime Ministers, 4 different Transport Secretaries and 11 different Transport Ministers. What the sector needs is a Government committed to investing in big ticket projects to truly bring about transformational change to the sector. By unlocking these opportunities for development, further opportunities for social value activity can be found and local challenges met.  

 

Travelling in the wrong direction

The Rail sector also has a pivotal role to play in Net Zero. Recent data released by the DfT highlighted a worrying trend, with the number of miles travelled by motor vehicles rising by 2.2% in 2023 compared to the year before. The reality is that people will continue to be reliant on motor vehicles whilst the Government fails to act on improving public transport services around the UK. By investing in transformational rail infrastructure, the Government can unleash the potential of the Rail sector to play a pivotal role in the road to Net Zero.  

 

Staying on track

Rail’s future reputation and sustainability credentials will be influenced by how the industry’s social value competencies are built and maintained. The challenge the railway faces is maintaining the social license to build and maintain its infrastructure. Network Rail has a responsibility to give back to the communities it serves. Should the railway fail to fulfil its obligations then it loses the social license to deliver. 

One of the steepest challenges facing the rail sector, and transport sector more widely, is solving the problem of Transport Related Social Exclusion. Inherently, the rail sector can provide a solution to this problem, either by building new stations, new railways or by providing quicker and more reliable services. However, this also presents other social value opportunities for CP7 contractors and Network Rail to provide community benefits during this funding period. 

For truly impactful social value to be realised collaboration between local authorities and contractors needs to be encouraged from the offset. Local authorities often have first hand knowledge of what social value elements are needed in their areas and contractors can advise on how to deliver it. Including social value elements has become “business as usual” for projects but best practice needs to be embedded in the work in the same way as health and safety culture is. By embracing this approach then social value can be encouraged and genuine successes achieved.  

 

Copper in rail

At Copper, we understand the importance of connecting communities and the unique opportunities stations provide. Our team supports both clients and contractors with bespoke stakeholder engagement, community benefit advocacy and social value delivery. We additionally provide in depth local analysis to encourage greater engagement between the railways and the communities they serve. 

 

We are launching our report on the public’s perceptions of station investment later this year. For more information and to make sure you are the first on the list to receive a copy please email ella.sanders@copperconsultancy.com or william.mendoza@copperconsultancy.com. 

 

Purpose-driven communication is central to galvanising and sustaining support around a collective goal. Ronan Cloud and James Hillier, Directors at Copper Consultancy, share their reflections and insight. 

 

Industrial clusters are on the rise. Whether regional or industry-led, clusters are a central pillar to driving collaboration and accelerating innovation.  

Targeting a specific site or sector, clusters bring together knowledge, skills, and R&D facilities to help drive an industry forward towards a common goal.  

But they also bring together many partners, some of whom have conflicting agendas and differing levels of enthusiasm.  

 

So how do you create a cluster? And – crucially – how do you sustain success?  

 

Through our work with HyNet, Hydrogen South West, the Hydrogen in Aviation Alliance and the UK Research and Innovation’s Industrial Decarbonisation Challenge and the West of England Local Industrial Decarbonisation Plan, we have gathered a wide range of perspectives to uncover the key elements that help groups of organisations move from concept to cluster.  

 

1. A shared vision

 

Starting with the ‘why’ is fundamental to a cluster’s success. Sometimes, a specific objective will be obvious – decarbonising a particular site or industry, for example. But, if you’re trying to deliver something new, clarifying your purpose and vision from the outset it vital. Not only does it galvanise involvement, but it can motivate others who share your vision to get involved and pool resources.  

 

For HyNet, the purpose of its Vision Document was to set out why and a major network of infrastructure should be delivered around Liverpool and North Wales. This helped to attract many new businesses, cemented political support, and contributed to the project’s success in securing Track One status, making it an investment priority for central Government. 

 

For Hydrogen South West, we set out to create an infrastructure ecosystem that brings the benefits of hydrogen to the South West.  

This clear objective has resulted in more than 10 partners and 80 members joining forces to accelerate a wide range of hydrogen projects across the region. 

Conducting workshops and gathering insights from stakeholders to define the vision, mission and purpose for the cluster can be the ideal way to kickstart efforts and build bonds.  

 

2. Synergy isn’t just a buzzword

 

The word “synergy” is often lambasted. Vilified over dinner. Over-used on LinkedIn. But in the world of clusters, it has finally found its place.  

Clusters are often filled with many partners from many sectors. All with their own challenges and priorities. Identifying synergies brings themes to the fore. Themes that turn into working groups, and working groups that become projects.  

At the heart of every cluster is a desire to make things happen. And creating synergy is vital to making that a reality.  

 

3. Beat the drum

Launching a cluster is easy; collect stakeholders, define your vision, build a rudimentary website, and issue a press release. The challenge is sustaining its success and building momentum over time.  

A launch will make a splash – the more you spend, the bigger the impact – but waves die down unless you throw more into the water.  

Establishing a regular drumbeat of activity is vital to sustain the noise and build momentum over time. Building a content calendar of updates, events, and activity to document the cluster’s development and key milestones.  

 

4. Don’t just say something, stand for something

 

Everyone wants to be a thought leader. But the first mistake is talking about yourself. No one cares who you are – unless you’re already famous. They only care what you have to say. And they will only listen if you say something that matters.  

So don’t talk about the cluster. Talk about the challenge. What challenges is your sector facing that you’re helping to solve? How is the cluster overcoming those challenges?  

Answering these questions will create a thought leadership platform, from which you can drive out communications, connect with media and demonstrate your expertise. 

This will help put you on the map and give people a sense of what the cluster is really striving for.  

 

5. Accelerating success

 

With a vision created, synergies defined and a drum banging away, the cluster can look at ways to kick on and accelerate success.  

Central to that is joint marketing initiatives and joint bidding opportunities. While some clusters may even contain competing businesses, joint bidding can help to cement your position and turn a solid submission into a robust plan with scale.  

Cluster work means leaving your company lanyard at the door and considering which strengths each individual or organisation can bring to the table to best serve your shared objective. Working with your industry peers can be enormously rewarding, and who knows? You might even learn something new. 

 

6. A driving force

 

Finally, the fastest way to falter is a lack of proper governance and accountability. The buck must stop somewhere. A leader, who is the face of the cluster and cracks the whip among partners is essential to ensuring deadlines are met and promises delivered. Without accountability, a cluster is just a talking shop. Another hour in the diary you can all do without.  

Everyone is enthusiastic at the beginning but the shine soon fades, particularly as the real work starts and knotty challenges invariably emerge. Unless it’s kept fresh, evolves, and grows. This leader can help to ensure it does. They can help turn an idea into an active part of the industry – spoken of at events and highlighted through its growing membership.  

And there you have it. Six points to success. As easy as that.  

 

But of course, it’s never easy, particularly when clusters are trying to do something new. There may not be policy in place, or funding. There may be those who do not believe in your shared objective; and (we guarantee), disagreements within the cluster. 

 

But the will to succeed, plus the expertise – and perhaps these six points as well – and you can set yourself on the path to success.  

 

Get in touch today!

Simon joins the Economic Development practice as Senior Account Director, bringing considerable experience  of working on some of the largest national infrastructure projects of recent times. 

Before joining Copper, Simon worked in civil service communications for five years, dealing with teams on projects including National Highways, HS2 Ltd and Crossrail Ltd.  

Following his time in the civil service, Simon moved into the world of public affairs and PR, and gained a wealth of agency-side experience through  working for clients such as HS1 Ltd and several large telecoms, infrastructure and property firms. 

Simon has phenomenal experience in working through crises. He was instrumental in helping handle the UK Government’s response to the pandemic, specifically regarding travel corridor policy and other transport matters during the pandemic. 

 

Ronan Cloud, Director of Economic Development said:

“As the UK faces an era of unprecedented change, a new generation of projects, ideas and technologies are growing out of infancy and into real solutions for the climate, housing, and cost of living challenges we face. It is more important than ever that we support projects with creative, impactful communications that raise awareness, influence behaviours, and build buy-in for the future that we’re shaping. We’re delighted to welcome Simon to the team. His appointment represents a step-change in our offering – sharpening our media skills and bolstering our governmental and political insights. His talent and leadership will bring new confidence and ideas, both in the team and for our clients.” 

 

Speaking about joining Copper, Simon said:

“I’m extremely excited to get my feet under the desk and start here at Copper. Now more than ever, companies and agencies delivering development in the UK need to not only effectively communicate a positive vision for their plans, but also clearly explain how these developments align with the UK’s decarbonisation agenda.  

Copper is renowned for helping government agencies, major companies and local government bodies handle these twin challenges, and I’m looking forward to being part of Copper’s story as it continues to grow and support such organisations.” 

 

Find out more about Copper Consultancy’s economic development offer here. 

You can also find out more about careers at Copper here or visit our LinkedIn page for current vacancies.