The UK has been at the forefront of the offshore wind industry over the last decade. With more than 10 GW of installed offshore wind capacity today, the UK has established itself as a world leader, a journey which has seen capacity significantly increase from less than just 1.5 GW in 2010. The rapid growth of the UK offshore wind sector can be attributed to several factors, including government support, technological advancements, and the falling cost of this renewable energy. Copper Consultancy looks back at the accelerated development of this crucial energy source, and looks ahead to what the future holds for the sector.

In 2011, the Government made it clear in its UK Renewable Energy Roadmap that significant reductions in the cost of electricity from offshore wind was required to encourage development in the technology. Offshore wind energy was recognised as a crucial part of the government’s commitment to decarbonising the economy, and that innovation was necessary to achieve cost reduction on a large scale, to enable a more competitive source of renewable energy.

The Offshore Wind Cost Reduction Task Force was established in 2011 to produce an action plan for cost reduction, and in 2012 The Crown Estate published an industry report covering the same topic. Combined, these set the path for industry and government collaboration for the next decade which has led to the cost of energy from offshore wind dropping below even the best-case industry predictions at the time. When the Climate Change Act was passed in 2008, UK offshore wind projects were producing energy at roughly £170 per megawatt hour. Fast forward to present day, and this figure now stands well under £50 per megawatt hour, signifying a monumental shift and a journey which has helped encourage mass development.

During the last decade, the Contracts for Difference (CfD) scheme was also set up by government to support low-carbon electricity generation thus incentivising investment in renewables. By ensuring developers receive a fixed, pre-agreed price for the low carbon energy produced, CfD provided financial assurance to developers which would incur substantial upfront costs and long project lifecycles before seeing a return on investment. For offshore wind, across the four CfD Allocation Rounds since the first in 2015, contracts have been awarded for 16 projects with a combined capacity of over 16 GW. This includes Orsted’s Hornsea Three in the latest round which is set to become the world’s biggest offshore wind farm.

While CfD is providing assurances to developers for projects that will become operational in the future, over the past decade a number of offshore wind projects pre-CfD have started generating electricity and adding tangible contributions to the UK’s low-carbon economy. Projects including Hornsea One (1.2 GW) and Walney Extension (0.7 GW) have been some of the first wind farms to navigate the development consent regime for Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects (NSIPs), and have lived the project lifecycle from pre-application, through to construction and operation.

They have had to deal with the difficulties of traversing a new planning regime, including the requirements for developing detailed environmental information and delivering robust consultations to explain the impacts of these projects to stakeholders and communities. These projects helped pave the way and provided confidence to the industry that projects can successfully be delivered from start to finish under this regime. In total, 11 offshore wind farms have been consented through the development consent regime, three are in construction and eight are operational, with more currently in the pre-application stages.

Offshore wind has flourished, and this was more recently evidenced through Vattenfall securing the National Infrastructure Planning Association’s award for Best Project, for both its Norfolk Vanguard and Norfolk Boreas offshore wind farms, which demonstrates how offshore wind projects have excelled and delivered best practice while tackling challenges around protecting the environment and delivering consultation and stakeholder engagement at scale.

Looking to the future, offshore wind is expected to play an increasing role in the UK’s energy mix. In 2019, the government passed legislation committing the UK to a ‘net-zero’ greenhouse gas emissions target by 2050, and at the same time the government and the Offshore Wind Industry Council signed a Sector Deal for offshore wind in the UK which included a target of 30 GW of installed capacity by 2030. This was increased to 40 GW in the Ten Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution, which is nearly quadruple the installed capacity today, demonstrating the political backing and ambitions for the sector. In the 2022 British Energy Security Strategy the target was further increased to 50 GW of offshore wind by 2030.

Technological advancements will be a key factor in achieving this milestone. We have already seen the size of the turbines increase, advances in technology to allow offshore wind farms to be built in deeper waters, the development of floating offshore wind, advances in cable technology, and more. Innovation is expected to continue, further reducing the offshore wind costs and facilitating even more, and larger projects to come forward.

However, this is not without its challenges. While the Crown Estate leases its offshore sites to developers all around the UK’s borders, there are only a limited number of onshore connection points where the electricity generated can be distributed to homes and businesses. With the UK’s grid capacity feeling the strain, offshore wind farms are often co-locating within the same local authority boundaries and being required to connect to the same onshore substations. Increasing the number of projects will exacerbate this, and significant upgrades will be required to the onshore transmission network over the coming years in order to meet the demands of not only offshore wind, but renewable energy generation in general. An independent report of the UK’s Offshore Wind Champion, released in March 2023, made recommendations and identified opportunities for government and industry to accelerate the deployment of offshore wind projects in the UK, and one of the key messages was to stress the urgent need to upgrade the national grid, as grid connections are increasingly becoming the rate-limiting factor for UK offshore wind deployment.

As more offshore wind projects come forward, the cumulative impacts are also likely to increase and the industry will face further challenges surrounding impacts to the environment, consultation fatigue and increased opposition from communities as a result. Stakeholder groups are already lobbying for an offshore transmission network review to help reduce the impacts onshore across multiple projects, and increased opposition during the consenting process could slow down project development and jeopardise the 50 GW by 2030 target.

It is more important than ever for developers to clearly explain their projects using accessible and engaging methods to build understanding and support among communities, and to continue developing projects within the policy framework set by the government. Collaboration will also be important to build understanding across projects and manage any potential cumulative impacts, especially during the construction phase.

Another key dependency for the development of offshore wind over the coming years is the capability of the supply chain. Having enough skilled workers available to construct multiple projects that move into the construction phase at a similar time will be a key challenge, and industry collaboration will be fundamental to managing this.

The offshore wind industry has already proven it can work together to innovate, through organisations such as The Carbon Trust’s research, deployment and development programme, the Offshore Wind Accelerator, and to collaborate, such as through the EastWind Offshore Cluster, which is set up to drive the implementation of the Offshore Wind Sector Deal (OWSD). Investment in local skills and employment will be critical to achieving the industry commitment set out in the OWSD of 60% local content by 2030.

Despite the challenges there is plenty to be optimistic about. Over the last decade the UK’s offshore wind sector has seen a period of rapid growth and development, making significant progress in reducing costs, increasing capacity, and driving technological innovation. Looking ahead, the fifth CfD Allocation Round, and both the Celtic Sea floating offshore wind and ScotWind 2 leasing rounds signify the next key milestones for the industry. The sector is poised for continued growth and success in transitioning the UK to a low-carbon economy.

For more information or to talk to us about Copper’s work in the offshore wind sector, please contact Sam Cranston at



On 10-11 May, Copper joined colleagues from across the RSK Group for the annual All-Energy conference in Glasgow.

On the first day of the conference, Copper’s Director of Energy Infrastructure Sam Cranston led a session exploring whether the next UK general election will be won or lost on climate change.

The session shared findings from our latest public attitudes report exploring this question and what the energy industry can learn from voters’ intentions.

The main takeaways were:

  • Today’s issues matter most – Voters are focused on what they are feeling and seeing now – less money in their pockets, higher bills and costs, a growing NHS waiting list, strikes and the concerns around immigration, which voters feel is stretching already struggling public services.
  • The next election will not be won on climate change, but it could swing voters – Do not expect climate and environmental policies or pledges to feature front and centre at the next election – these messages will not deliver the same cut through as those focused on economic stability and measures to control inflation.
  • Climate change is important to people – Although political parties might strategically focus their messaging on the top issues in the electorate’s minds, this does not mean the sector should turn quiet on the climate emergency. The world continues to warm and the major political parties continue to double down on ever more ambitious climate targets that they need the sector to deliver.
  • Different audiences require different messages – Narratives supporting low-carbon energy will no longer work if delivered in a one-size-fits-all fashion. We need to catch up with other sectors that deliver more bespoke and focused messages to voters. This, in turn, gives politicians a better opportunity to reflect voter priorities.


You can read the report, ‘Will the next general election be won or lost on climate change?’ here – All-Energy-Attitudes-report-2023.pdf (

Copper is a consciously specialist agency.

We live and breathe infrastructure and development, work on policy formation, support major projects, facilitate construction, and help major organisations build understanding of what they do.

Being specialist means that we are unlikely to become the biggest agency in the UK. But that doesn’t make us niche.

We’ve moved up nine places in PR Week’s latest ranking of communications agencies, and we are number six in the league table for growth in number of employees.

We have been growing fast, investing heavily in our brilliant team, and see a significant opportunity to continue to grow.

In recent years, Copper has made a firm commitment to support the transition to a net zero society, and a sustainable economy. Although we also support projects that help to rebalance the economy and enable more widespread access to essential infrastructure, the vast majority of our work is dedicated to enabling low carbon energy, supporting decarbonisation of industry, boosting active travel, and facilitating the change neeed to deliver these transitions.

That may look like pushing at an open door. The case for investment into establishing a cleaner, more sustainable, more nature rich way of life has been won…..right?

Opinion polls repeatedly show that belief in manmade climate change is almost universal. But that doesn’t mean that there isn’t fervent debate about how we go about weaning ourselves off fossil fuels, and the changes that we will all experience as a result.

For our latest Attitudes report, Will the next general election be won or lost on climate change?, we surveyed 1,500 members of the public on their attitudes to net zero. The report found that the public supports policies to address climate change, but are deeply sceptical about how realistic efforts are; and remain concerned about how the net zero transition will impact them. In short, people want net zero, but are less convinced about who should pay for it, or that they want a windfarm or solar park in their ‘back-yard’. Progress towards carbon reduction and increased sustainability sparks heated discussion, debate and all too often opposition.

And that is where Copper comes in. We have spent 25 years talking to everyone from government ministers to local residents, about the need for change. We ensure that a wide range of views are taken onboard as projects are planned, and work to build common understanding.

The scale and pace of change is going to need to increase in the years ahead, if we are going to even come close to achieving net zero goals. There will be an ever increasing need for dialogue as individuals and communities grapple with what net zero means for them, and the role for Copper and companies like us, is going become ever more important.

But, just more talking, in an already noisy world isn’t necessarily going to help. We need to change how we speak, work harder to tell engaging and relatable stories, bring new groups of people into the conversation, and do better at listening.

To respond to this challenge, Copper has expanded our offering, bringing together a team of specialist content creators, writers, editors, designers, animators and digital communicators, to bring complex, technical and often challenging topics to life.

Despite being a specialist agency, as part of the RSK Group, we can offer the widest range of services from research, data insight and analysis, through communications strategy, stakeholder engagement, content creation and digital, and even cutting edge sustainable events.

We remain ambitious for the future and believe we can make a positive, and ever more significant, contribution to a more sustainable future.

To find out more about what we offer please visit our webpage here, or view some of our case studies.

You can also follow us on LinkedIn.

Copper is delighted to be hosting a roundtable in partnership with the Future Water Association on Thursday 25 May, 2:00pm via Zoom. The discussion will focus on the findings of Copper’s report The Water pipeline – Readiness and reassurance: A study of public attitudes to the water sector.

We will cover the key findings of the report, and will seek input from attendees into the challenges and experiences they have had with stakeholder engagement across the water sector. We will discus some of the opportunities that can be had by engaging early and often with stakeholders, as well as the challenges that the sector will face in meeting ambitious targets set by government, regulators and the wider industry.


  • Welcome from Chair and Paul Horton, CEO of Future Water Association
  • Copper presentation on findings of the report
  • Discussion one: Experience and challenges
  • Discussion two: Opportunities and ways forward
  • Next steps and close

To RSVP, please email or register here. The webinar link will be provided in joining instructions a few days before the event.

You can find the link to our report here.


Party Conference Season 2023 may feel like a long way off, but organisations are already finalising their plans, and fringe events will quickly become booked up.

This year we are leveraging our unique position to play ‘matchmaker’ for the Conservative and Labour party conferences. Our party conference cupid service matches clients with a complementary event partner to split the costs of organising a presence at conference, saving you at least 50% on the cost.

By partnering, you have an opportunity to:
• Have a cost-effective presence at a Party conference.
• Combine forces with a partner, and access a wider network of politicians, businesses and media.
• Raise your profile and put your company at the centre of a debate or policy issue.

We’d love you to complete our survey which can be found here –

To find out more please email

Across England on Thursday 4 May, many residents will be going to the polls to have their say on who should represent them in local government for the next four years. With the national picture as uncertain as ever, it’s likely to be an eventful day. 

In the run-up to the elections, however, for council communications teams and their projects, it can be a quieter time than usual. In one sense at least. 

That’s because for six weeks prior to the election they enter a period of pre-election restrictions – previously known as purdah. 

These restrictions relate to how councils publicise their policies and work. During this time the onus is on council officers to take special care in how they communicate, to ensure no bias or undue influence over the election by the incumbent administration. 

While there is good guidance available from the Local Government Association (LGA), this can often be a confusing time for officers and can involve regular conversations with the returning or monitoring officer over the publicity that sits in the grey area. 

Proactive media, events or photography relating to or involving parties and their candidates are clearly prohibited. But in other areas, lines are more blurred. The official guidance states that councils should ‘not publish any material which, in whole or in part, appears to be designed to affect public support for a political party’. However, much of the business-as-usual communications can and should continue. 

Often this makes for difficult decisions in communications teams with some choosing the overtly cautious approach of saying as little as possible until after the elections, with others much more prepared to carefully navigate the landscape. 

This can be challenging when councils are working together (particularly given that some may not have any elections in a particular round), but also internally with communication teams and other services needing to work in partnership to balance publicity plans with the restriction sensitivities. 

For existing campaigns or engagement relating to, for example, transport, waste or infrastructure projects, officers are recommended to think carefully about any impact on the upcoming elections. That said it’s important that there is not simply a void in communications. Residents and stakeholders still need to hear important information and, as council colleagues across the country are experiencing now, still need to fight misinformation or defend their reputation appropriately. 

At a time when the use of public money has never been more closely scrutinised, and in the age of fast-moving, social media generated news, this is getting to be an ever more difficult landscape to navigate. 

With the local elections just days away, eyes will turn to the big metropolitan councils in the North of England to see how the main parties will fare.

The thinking amongst those “in the know” is that we will face a General Election with the next 12 to 16 months, meaning these elections could be the last chance for each Party to set their stall out before the main event.

“The North” is often a region looked at by political pundits and pollsters alike as they try and predict the likely results of a General Election. In 2019 the region was dominated by “red wall” analysis, a term coined to describe those mainly urban, Labour heartlands, which spread across large parts of the North and Midlands. Towns and cities such as Hartlepool, Bolton, Durham, and Sedgefield were all labelled in this way, as the Conservatives won a record number of seats in the region from Labour.

So the 2023 local elections will be of massive interest. It will provide us an opportunity to see whether Labour have managed to claw back some of its popularity in these seats, or whether the Conservatives are maintaining its strength. We may also see a small uprising in the minority parties such as the Liberal Democrats or Green Party, who all hope to make gains in the coming weeks.

We have identified three areas of interest below:


One of the most fascinating elections across the country will be those taking place in Liverpool. Dominated by scandal over the last few years, Liverpool City Council has traditionally been a Labour stronghold, with the party holding the majority of council seats since 2010. However, issues around the former Labour Mayor, Joe Anderson, and much party infighting has left the ruling Labour Group fighting on many fronts.

Boundary changes and the move to single-member wards also hold unprecedented opportunities for the other groups. The Liberal Democrats (once the party of power in Liverpool from 1998 to 2010) are hopeful that they can get more councillors elected, with some predicting the group could end up on around 30 councillors. Elsewhere the Green Party and Liberals (not to be confused with the Lib Dems) will be looking to extend their numbers.

It would take a swing of massive proportions to remove Labour from power in Liverpool. However, whilst we don’t expect the city to be governed by a different group after May, we do expect a greater opposition to the Labour group when the votes are all counted.



2019 saw the Council taken by a coalition of Conservatives and independent groups. A once strong Labour area, Hartlepool became the symbol of the red wall seats which were swept up by the Conservative Party under the leadership of Boris Johnson.

May 2023 provides us will a real opportunity to see whether the Conservatives have managed to sustain this power or whether the once-traditional Labour vote has gone back to where it always was, pre-2019.

Onne fly in the ointment is that the Conservatives and independents are defending eight seats, whilst the Labour group are only defending four. Whilst this could mean that it is unlikely that Labour can win a majority of councillors during the election, it does mean the Conservatives have more to lose going into polling day.


One of the major surprises of last year was in Hull. The Liberal Democrats took control of the City Council, after Labour had held power for just over a decade.

The Council is on a knife edge, with the Liberal Democrats having a majority of just one. This year, they are defending eight seats, many of which have very small majorities. This could make the race for Hull Town Hall a fascinating battle. Our analysis shows that the key battles will be in Pickering ward and University ward, two seats that Labour must win to take back control.

This council is too close to call and we expect many recounts during the actual counting of votes.


Jimmy Coles, Account Director, was delighted to join the wider RSK team in attendance at the World Water Tech Innovation summit held recently in central London. Whilst there were many achievements to cheer over the last year, particularly around emerging innovative technologies, the overriding consensus of the two day conference was the need for the sector to go further and faster when it comes to water infrastructure. 

The conference brought together the key players across government, water companies, the supply chain, regulators and NGOs. What was clear in abundance was the desire for partners across the sector to work together to ensure that we rise to the challenge and build a cleaner, more resilient water sector for the UK. 

Three key challenges were identified which will need to be addressed. That was to improve the quality of our existing water infrastructure and waste water management, reduce the risks of flooding and leakages, and most crucially to deliver infrastructure to build resiliency and keep pace with population increase and rising demand for water. 

These challenges will require partnership working and strategic thinking – a starting point for which should be for government, water companies and regulators agreeing on the long-term pipeline of infrastructure work, mapping these out and securing the funding for getting these projects off the ground. The National Infrastructure Commission envisions that the sector will need to invest £20billion over the next thirty years across England and Wales to keep pace with growing demand. What’s more, is that this will most likely require an increase in consumer water bills in order to raise the finances required to deliver these projects. 

Which brings us on to the other key aspect of delivering this much needed infrastructure – bringing the consumer/communities on the journey with us. If there is to be a rise in water bills for the consumer, there will need to be a significant upturn in the quality of the infrastructure that underpins this, and an understanding amongst communities as to why it is needed. 

Copper Consultancy’s recent study in to the public attitudes towards water infrastructure found that 55 per cent of the public did not fully understand how our water is collected, stored and treated. Despite this, there is a clear appetite from the public for new infrastructure to be delivered, with 66 per cent of those polled suggesting new infrastructure is required, especially if it means cleaner and more affordable water. 

It will therefore be crucial to ensure that when these projects come forward, water companies and developers clearly explain the benefits to the communities and engage with them early on in the process, to ensure that the projects are delivered with community buy-in and understanding. 

For more information or to talk to us about Copper’s work in the water sector, please contact Jimmy Coles at 

Yesterday saw a significant reshuffle in the Government. Number 10 has stated its purpose has been to ensure the delivery of the Prime Minister’s five priorities: to halve inflation, grow the economy, reduce debt, cut waiting lists and stop the boats.


Chief among these departmental changes has been the creation of the new Department for Energy Security and Net Zero, which will be led by former Business Secretary, Grant Shapps MP. In Shapps’ own words, his focus will be “securing our long-term energy supply, bringing down bills and thereby helping to halve inflation.”


Other changes include:


A dedicated Department for Science, Innovation and Technology will drive innovation to deliver improved public services, create new and better-paid jobs and grow the economy.


A combined Department for Business and Trade to support growth by backing British businesses at home and abroad, promoting investment and championing free trade.


A re-focused Department for Culture, Media and Sport (losing the ‘Digital’ element to its name) will recognise the importance of these industries to the economy and build on the UK’s position as a global leader in the creative arts.