Copper Consultancy expands with new offices in Cardiff

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

 

The Cardiff office builds on over 18 years of Copper Consultancy supporting large-scale complex infrastructure projects in Wales.  

 

Based in the Creative Quarter in the heart of the city centre, the opening is a signal of intent for the agency, following a senior level hire in the latter half of 2023. 

 

Copper is a full-service communications consultancy with over 100 people UK-wide, specialising in combining insight, expertise and creative communications for clients across the energy and infrastructure sectors.

 

In Wales, Copper has supported clients such as National Grid, RWE, Wind2, Hanson, ABP, Bute Energy, Green GEN Cymru, Western Link, HyNet, Uniper, Renewable Connections, Western Gateway, and Cardiff Parkway.

 

The opening of the new Welsh 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. 

 

Copper has a growing team across the length and breadth of Wales, beyond the capital, and is steadfast in its commitment to bilingualism with a growing team of Welsh speakers at a senior level. 
 

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

 

The office will be led by Lisa Childs, who is a stakeholder and strategic communications specialist with experience both in leading high-profile campaigns for nationally significant infrastructure projects, and in leading Welsh campaigning organisations.  

 

Managing Partner, Martin McCrink, said: 

 

“Our new Cardiff base will provide a great platform to deliver for clients, existing and new; building on over 18 years of delivery in Wales.  

 

“As we grow, we are keen to attract the best talent across Wales 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. 

 

Wales Lead Lisa Childs, said:
 

“Wales is on the cusp of a green energy revolution, and we are seeing a confident Welsh Government drive forward an ambitious programme for change.

 

“There are challenges, but I’m motivated to help our clients navigate them. Copper Cymru can be the one-stop shop for strategic communications, stakeholder engagement, public affairs, creative and design, crisis communications, as well as building on our strong track record in supporting projects achieve consent.

 

“I’m looking forward to expanding on Copper’s record of delivery in Wales, and excited by the opportunities that hydrogen, carbon capture and storage, and offshore wind offer us in Wales.

 

“I’m delighted to be deepening Copper’s presence in Wales and to be presented with an opportunity to combine my major project experience with my desire to live and work bilingually in an ambitious, forward-looking, greener Wales.” 

 

Copper will be sharing its office with RSK Environment at; Suite 115, Creative Quarter, 8a Morgan Arcade, Cardiff, CF10 1AF 

 

Please contact Lisa.Childs@copperconsultancy.com for any inquiries, or to discuss our work further.  

 

A consortium led by South West-based hydrogen developer, Tower Group, will deliver the Exeter H2 Hub, a 5 MW pilot plant with mobile refuelling capability in East Devon, by 2026.

 

The plant will supply hydrogen to fuel cell electric vehicles owned by Wales & West Utilities, other utilities companies and local Councils. The facility will also be used to explore how low-carbon hydrogen could be used to decarbonise industry in the area. The refuelling station will also be open to third parties, including the general public and the private sector, to encourage the growth of the hydrogen economy in the region.

 

Demonstrating how hydrogen can be used in transport is a key step to increasing hydrogen production, with both retail and direct offtake hydrogen supply being planned in the area. The consortium intends to apply for Government support to advance its ambitions to make hydrogen refuelling a reality for the region.

 

The Exeter H2 Hub consortium is led by Tower Group and includes Wales & West Utilities, Element 2, the University of Exeter’s Centre for Future Clean Mobility, EMotive, Oort Energy, Costain and Gardiner & Theobald.

 

Alex King, CEO of Tower Group, today said:

 

“The UK needs more investment in hydrogen infrastructure. If we are going to truly level up the country and deliver on the promises of net zero, then we must accelerate our efforts and bring investment and jobs to those places desperately in need. This pilot project takes us one step further towards this goal, with many more to come.”

 

Tower and Element 2 are looking to build upon a pre-existing agreement to co-develop hydrogen refuelling stations in the South West. Element 2 bring a wealth of experience to the Exeter H2 Hub consortium on the installation and operation of mobile and fixed hydrogen refuelling stations. Andrew Hagan, Chief Development Officer said.

 

“Element 2 is excited to solidify our hydrogen refuelling network, bringing our years of hydrogen refuelling and enabling the clean energy and air transition to the South West. Combining with the additional expertise the hub partners bring allows us to build out another fundamental block of our network from Land’s End to John O Groats.”

 

Consortium member Wales & West Utilities maintain 1,300 vehicles in its fleet, half of which could require hydrogen to meet its net zero targets. Stephen Offley, WWU fleet manager said:

 

‘Wales & West Utilities believes that hydrogen will soon become the most operationally satisfactory zero emission solution for high energy demand vans. Consequently, we expect to deploy hydrogen-fuelled vans at the earliest practicable opportunity, initially in smaller clusters, that operate within a convenient radius of the hydrogen refuelling location. These clusters will each create significant daily demand for hydrogen and cover almost 90% of our fleet duty cycles: subject to satisfactory operating experience and Total Cost Of Ownership (TCO), we would expect to progressively increase cluster sizes year-on-year’.

 

Oort Energy is a Bristol based manufacture of PEM Electrolysers, for the generation of pure green hydrogen.Dr. Nick Van Dijk, CEO commented:

 

“Oort Energy are delighted to be part of these ambitious plans, that will establish Exeter’s H2 Hub as a leading force in helping to deliver on the UK’s Net Zero objectives. Oort Energy’s innovative proprietary technology will enable a low-cost and high efficiency PEM Electrolyser for the Hydrogen Production and Refuelling Pilot for the supply of hydrogen to local hydrogen fuelled vehicles.”

 

The Centre for Future has collaborated closely with Tower Group, Wales & West Utilities, and EMotive to assess the optimal strategies for advancing clean vehicle development and the associated infrastructure. Prof Chris Smith, Director of the Centre for Future Clean Mobility said:

“The South West could be the leading region in the UK to do clean mobility, and capture those economic opportunities and jobs. The best way of doing this is to put in place an entire ecosystem of green hydrogen production through to hydrogen vehicles, in place together at the same time. This is what we’re striving to do. No other UK region has this opportunity right now.”

 

Andy Clarke, Director of Integrated Transport at Costain and Chair of Hydrogen South West, said:

 

‘The South West has boundless potential for building a hydrogen ecosystem, with clean mobility projects such as Tower Group’s set to be a key catalyst of this as we look to reach net zero. I am delighted to see a regional innovator make a significant step forward to making the South West a lynchpin of the UK’s future hydrogen economy’.

 

The Exeter H2 Hub consortium also plans to work with consortium member and clean vehicle innovator EMotive, based in Cullompton, to investigate opportunities to retrofit existing fleet with hydrogen combustion engines and/ or fuel cell electric powertrains, via a pilot project of 5-10 vehicles from Wales & West Utilities, co-located with the refuelling pilot. The intention is to ramp this up to a facility where the team can retrofit and maintain the thousands of vans and larger vehicles in the region.

 

Dan Regan, Managing Director of EMotive, said:

 

“EMotive has been working on innovative clean commercial vehicle designs right here in Devon for over 5 years now. We’re incredibly proud to now be part of Tower Group’s consortium taking this leap in the Southwest towards a cleaner and greener future for our region. This project will take great steps in achieving better air quality, more sustainable industries and shine a light on the Southwest as a leader in greener transport and energy systems. It will bring inward investment to the area and also volume job creation at EMotive as we build our new facility around the needs of the consortium and project.”

 

Initial modelling suggests that the pilot plant could expand significantly due to demand from utilities companies alone. By demonstrating the viability of this pilot, Tower Group aim to catalyse organic hydrogen growth  to benefit of East Devon, Exeter and the wider South West. Tower Group will also use the project to look at further opportunities for hydrogen in the area, such as the capture of secondary heat and direct offtake to industrial users.

 

To find out more, including a full list of delivery partners, visit Tower-group.co.uk.

On Friday, former Energy Minister and Chair of the Government Review of Net Zero Chris Skidmore MP announced that he would resign both from the Conservative Party and as an MP.

 

His resignation as an MP could take effect as soon as today. Skidmore cites in his statement the Government’s decision to bring forward legislation that would facilitate the annual awarding of licences for oil and gas extraction in the North Sea. Skidmore, who signed into law in 2019 the UK’s pledge to reach net zero by 2050, stated that the proposed legislation ‘clearly promotes the production of new oil and gas’ and ‘achieves nothing apart from sending a global signal that the UK is rowing ever further back from its climate commitments’.

 

The proposed legislation, the Offshore Petroleum Licensing Bill, is one of the keystones of the Government’s legislative agenda as set out in November’s King’s Speech. Widely seen as intending to create a dividing line with the Labour Party. This was the latest step as part of a wider pushback against net zero initiatives that began in July’s Uxbridge by-election, where strong opposition to the ULEZ policy was seen. This was decisive in helping the Conservatives retain the seat and continued in September when the Prime Minister pushed back several net zero policy milestones.

 

In addition to Skidmore, former COP26 Chair Alok Sharma states he will oppose the Bill. This with a significant number of pro-net zero Conservative MPs who are also expected to either vote against or abstain on the Bill. So rather than creating difficulties for Labour, the proposed legislation has only opened up yet more divisions within the Conservatives, ahead of its Second Reading debate in the House of Commons tonight.

 

Try as the Prime Minister might to claim the political advantage, backfiring initiatives such as this will make his task ever harder as the general election approaches. As Labour face their own internal pressures on net zero as their flagship £28 billion net zero investment policy continues to be chopped and changed by the party leadership. Copper will continue to provide intelligence and insight to support clients in navigating this turbulent landscape and adapting to change.

🚆Rail

New trains enter service on Birmingham’s Cross City LineRail Business Daily 

Train operator West Midlands Railway (WMR) said the introduction of the Class 730 fleet represents the start of a new era for rail travel on the line, which is used by millions of passengers every year and connects Birmingham with destinations including Lichfield, Redditch and Bromsgrove. 

 

Scotland’s rail prepares for climate breakdown while government abandons emissions targetNew Civil Engineer 

£400m will be invested in Scotland’s railways over the next five years to improve its resilience against climate breakdown-driven extreme weather, but the Scottish Government has meanwhile revoked its emissions goals. 

 

Foundation work begins on bridge to take A43 highway over HS2 railway near BrackleyNew Civil Engineer 

High Speed 2 (HS2) main works contractor EKFB has begun construction of the foundations for a road bridge to take the A43 over the under-construction railway. 

 

A new train station for a Greater Manchester town is being consideredManchester Evening News 

A plan for a new train station for Rochdale is closer to becoming a reality. Rochdale council received a letter from Transport for Greater Manchester’s rail boss Simon Elliot saying leaders would consider the ‘deliverability’ of a new train station in the Belfield and Smallbridge area. 

 

⚡Energy

Hinkley C’s 116 new T-pylons now fully connectedThe Engineer 

The Hinkley Connection Project spans 57km between National Grid’s new Shurton substation on the Hinkley C site and an existing Seabank substation in Avonmouth. An 8.5km stretch of underground cable runs through the Mendip Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, with the remainder covered by overhead lines supported almost entirely by the new T-pylons. 

 

New energy minister appointed – Utility Week 

 

Burying of cable for 190km Ireland to Wales subsea interconnector begins – New Civil Engineer 

The 500MW cable will transfer power using high voltage direct current via submarine and underground cables over approximately 200km between two converter stations located in Wexford, Ireland (EirGrid) and Pembroke, Wales (National Grid). 

 

Billion-pound Viking Link launches: Powering up 2.5m UK homesEnergy Live News 

National Grid’s Viking Link, a £1.8bn project connecting the UK with Denmark, has launched today, promising to power millions of homes and deliver billions in consumer benefits 

 

SSE Renewables’ first battery storage project now fully operational – Infrastructure Intelligence  

SSE’s first battery energy storage system (BESS) project at Salisbury in Wiltshire is now fully operational. The 50MW / 100MWh BESS project, which could power more than 80,000 homes for two hours at times of peak demand, is the first operational battery site in SSE’s portfolio. 

Green light for 719MW Sheringham, Dudgeon extensionsReNews 

UK Energy Secretary Claire Coutinho has granted development consent to Equinor’s 317MW Sheringham Shoal and 402MW Dudgeon Extension wind farms off England’s Norfolk coast. 

 

 

🧑‍🤝‍🧑 People

Natural Power expands teamreNEWS.BIZ 

Natural Power has appointed Clare Horner as Director of Onshore Consenting and Environment. Horner joins from ERM where she was Onshore Renewables Team Lead and Associate Partner. She will be responsible for onshore planning projects, across all renewable energy technologies, throughout the UK and Ireland including the onshore elements of offshore projects such as grid connections and substations. 

 

Another Lendlease veteran moves to McAlpineConstruction Index 

The arrival of Paul Sims at Sir Robert McAlpine comes just weeks after Neil Martin joined as chief executive to replace Paul Hamer. Like Sims, Martin also spent several decades at Lendlease and its predecessor company Bovis. 

 

Permasteelisa brings in industry expert for new role of innovation director Building 

Cladding firm Permasteelisa has brought in a new group innovation director from insulation specialist Rockwool. Kim Palmen-Koop spent 30 years at Rockwool subsidiary Rockfon, which specialises in ceiling tiles, starting as product development manager before graduating to head of research and development. 

 

Kier loses sustainability chief to HolcimConstruction Index 

Anna Baker joins Holcim’s UK subsidiary after just 15 months with Kier Construction, which she joined as head of sustainability in December 2022. 

 

New director for McBainsConstruction Index 

Construction consultant McBains has appointed Grant Harden to the position of director within its building services engineering division. 

 

 

🛣️ Roads

Kent to deliver huge highway maintenance programme with Network North fundingHighways News 

Network North funding is an £8.3 billion commitment to highways maintenance across England over the next 11 years. Kent is due to receive £135 million in total between 2023 to 2024 and 2033 to 2034. 

Devon County Council approves £24m highways scheme in Plymouth Highways News 

Devon councillors have this week voted to improve road links to a new employment development at Langage, part of the Plymouth & South Devon (PASD) Freeport. 

 

Contract race starts for next £155m section of A9 duallingConstruction Enquirer 

The £155m contract will be procured as a design and build deal and involves upgrading approximately 8.2km of existing single carriageway, commencing just north of the Jubilee Bridge over the river Tay and ending at the southern end of the existing dual carriageway south of Ballinluig Junction. 

 

Second senior director exits National HighwaysConstruction Enquirer 

National Highways commercial and procurement director Malcolm Dare is leaving after five years at the roads delivery body. 

 

Over 400 Suffolk roads set for upgrade as largest ever surfacing project gets underwayHighways News 

With the start of the surface dressing programme beginning this week, 102 roads will be surface dressed, whilst a further 319 sites will benefit from a full machine resurfacing during the year. 

 

£90M plan to dual A500 in Crewe to be rescoped due to HS2 cancellationNew Civil Engineer 

Long-standing £89.5M plans to improve road access to Crewe station by dualling a stretch of the A500 have returned to the drawing board as the cancellation of High Speed 2 (HS2) north of Birmingham has undermined the scheme’s business case. 

 

🏘️ Property & Development

Greenwich university seeks contractors for £300m frameworkConstruction News 

The University of Greenwich is looking for contractors to join a £300m major-works framework. 

 

25 groundworks firms win £100m Places for People dealConstruction Enquirer News 

Housing group Places for People has picked its line-up of groundworks contractors to deliver new-build homes projects homes across England and Scotland. 

 

£400m South Cambridge science park approvedConstruction Enquirer News 

Joint developers Bridgemere Land and Foundation Capital Ventures have secured outline planning for a £400m landmark science and innovation park in South Cambridge. 

 

Green light for Leeds city centre office developmentInfrastructure Intelligence 

Developed by BAM, Latitude Yellow will provide more than 200,000 sq ft of Grade A commercial office space. Latitude Yellow will achieve net zero status from day one, eliminating the need for fossil fuels throughout the lifetime of the building and relying exclusively on renewable energy sources. 

 

Another tower set for growing Leeds cluster with 45-storey scheme OK’d Building 

A 45-storey residential tower by Howells Architects in a growing cluster of planned tall buildings in Leeds has been given the green light by city planners. 

 

Consultation begins on £450m plans for 60 Gracechurch StreetConstruction Index 

Obayashi Properties UK (OPUK), which bought 60 Gracechurch Street last year, has teamed up with Sellar, the investment and development company behind the Shard, to develop proposals for a landmark commercial building on the site. 

 

VolkerFitzpatrick wins £30m logistics jobConstruction Enquirer 

VolkerFitzpatrick has been chosen by logistics developer Prologis UK to design and build five new distribution units at Prologis Park Hemel Hempstead, within Maylands Business Park. 

 

£1.25bn frameworks launched to provide local authorities with specialist input on infrastructureNew Civil Engineer 

The public-owned procurement specialist’s Utilities Consultancy Frameworks will provide investments across the UK. They are split into a £750M framework for England, Wales and Northern Ireland and a £500M framework for Scotland. 

 

£55m Sheffield build-to-rent scheme approvedConstruction Enquirer 

The Sheffield Gardens development, designed by architect Leach Rhodes Walker, will deliver 158 flats and a large, private gym, external landscaped courtyard, and roof-top gardens. Works will begin in the last months of 2024 with the demolition of the current dilapidated and unused commercial buildings on site. 

 

Sellar plans £500m City tower next to Walkie-Talkie – Construction Enquirer 

Sellar and Japanese developer Obayashi Properties UK are planning a landmark office tower that would link the City cluster to the Walkie-talkie on the capital’s skyline. 

 

Winners named for £260m Manchester Uni framework – Construction Enquirer  

The new build framework will be used to deliver the University’s next five-year investment strategy. It has been divided into four lots that will also cover demolition, refurbishment, decoration and landscaping, up to a total value of £260m. Twenty firms secured places on the framework although details of the winners for each of the four project value lots are still to emerge. 

 

💧 Water

BarhaleEnpure JV secures £15m Fixby treatment works upgradeInfrastructure Intelligence 

Yorkshire Water has awarded the BarhaleEnpure JV a £15m project to carry out major upgrade works at a key water treatment works on the edge of Huddersfield. 

 

Yorkshire Water to invest almost £800m in network improvements in next 12 months – BDC Magazine 

Yorkshire Water is set to invest £797m over the next 12 months in network improvements as it continues to enhance and upgrade its operations.  

 

Thames Water creditor backs plan to break up business – Telegraph 

A leading bondholder in Thames Water has backed plans to break up the business as it races to stave off collapse… 

﷟HYPERLINK “https://www.telegraph.co.uk/syndication/contact-us/” 

 

🦺 Corporate Construction News / Politics 

Vistry’s combined CEO and chair roles ‘not an issue – if he delivers’ Construction News 

Vistry’s decision to combine the roles of chair and chief executive might cause concern among some shareholders but the company will be judged on its financial performance, analysts have said. 

 

London back as most expensive place to build in worldConstruction Enquirer 

According to the latest Arcadis International Construction Costs report, London has leapfrogged Geneva to once agains the top spot among 100 global cities. 

 

✈️ Aviation

Farrans marks start at Leeds Bradford AirportConstruction Index 

The privately-funded £100m development, known as LBA:Regen, will see the existing terminal building at Leeds Bradford Airport’s in Yeadon redeveloped with a 9,500 sqm, three-storey extension, alongside a significant refurbishment of the existing facilities. 

 

 

 

Construction

Celebrating the Strawberry Line Sandford link

Together with National Grid, our Energy team were proud to organise a celebration event for the opening of the Strawberry Line Sandford link, built as part of National Grid’s Hinkley Connection Project.

The event was enjoyed by over 200 local residents, including families and children (and dogs) – many dressed as superheroes – who walked, biked and wheeled their way to the Strawberry Line in Sandford, North Somerset.

 

Highways UK 2023

For our roads team, the overwhelming highlight was attending Highways UK 2023 where we joined forces with RSK to host a stand complete with water art.

Rounding off the first day, we hosted our annual Copper dinner, which was attended by infrastructure leaders like Alasdair Reisner, CECA Chief Executive, who shared invaluable insights into the Second National Infrastructure Assessment – hot off the press earlier that day.

 

Approval of HS2 A46 Main Compound extension

Helping HS2 win approval for the A46 Main Compound extension planning application was a key moment for our rail team. In November, the successful application was almost unanimously approved by Warwick District Council’s planning committee.

Importantly, the project will expand HS2’s construction operations in Warwickshire and enable construction of key infrastructure, such as bridges, embankments and cuttings.

 

Public Attitudes to Social Value report

Earlier this year, we launched our Public Attitudes to Social Value report, which revealed compelling insights into public opinion on the delivery of social value by construction projects.

The report showed that public awareness hasn’t kept pace with the progress that the construction industry has made in delivering social value. You can read the full report here: Delivering Social Value With Copper Consultancy

 

Surprising public attitudes to renewable energy

This year, our Public Attitudes to Renewable Energy report revealed, to our surprise, just how low the UK public’s awareness and understanding of renewable energy is. Indeed, only 6% of respondents were aware that almost half of UK energy already comes from renewables.

Following our report’s launch, we organised an industry-led round table that brought together the Suffolk Chamber of Commerce, East of England Energy Group and energy developers to collaborate and coordinate efforts to raise awareness of renewable energy projects. More to come in the New Year!

 

Content & Creative

Copper Content & Creative launched

In April, Copper Consultancy merged with RSK Creative to form Copper Content & Creative, a new practice dedicated to delivering compelling technical B2B marketing services, including copywriting, editing, graphic design, brand development and animation and visualisation.

https://www.prweek.com/article/1828747/copper-consultancy-merges-rsk-creative

 

New practice, new clients

As our new practice grows, so does our client base and service portfolio. This year, we’ve welcomed an increasingly diverse range of projects, in subject areas including aquaculture, carbon-capture technologies, industrial decarbonisation and sustainable fuels.

 

Growing expertise

Throughout the year, our Content & Creative team has welcomed new and experienced graphic designers, editors and project managers, all of whom offer new and exciting perspectives and expertise.

With a bigger team and a wider pool of talent, we can offer a broader range of end-to-end editorial and design services to our clients.

 

Cementing long-term relationships

In December, we extended our long-standing relationship with Shell Polymers in the USA, a major deal that will see our team triple the delivery scope of technical marketing services to Shell’s polymers team.

 

10 years of energy technology reporting

In October, we hosted an anniversary lunch to celebrate 10 years of editorial and design support for Shell’s flagship technology magazine, Shell TechXplorer.

Our editorial and design team offer copywriting, interviewing, editing and project management services for four issues each year.

Economic Development

Helping local authorities decarbonise

This year, the Economic Development practice has travelled the length of the country, supporting local authorities with their climate action and decarbonisation agendas.

For example, working with Cornwall Council and the Council of the Isles of Scilly, we’ve toured the region engaging with local residents and businesses about the councils’ Local Area Energy Plan. Further north, we continue to support East Riding of Yorkshire Council with public engagement on their Climate Action Plan.

Across both projects, we’ve engaged hundreds of people and helped develop new strategies for how people can use and generate energy.

 

Water management to economic empowerment

In the water sector, we embarked on an extensive brand development project for the Severn Valley Water Management Scheme, commissioned by the Environment Agency on behalf of the River Severn Partnership.

Our objective was to reconfirm and refine the vision, mission, purpose and values of the scheme, while strengthening brand positioning and identity.

This work was important because the Severn Valley Water Management Scheme is unprecedented in size and scale for the region and has the potential to deliver social, environmental and economic benefits to the community, while developing novel solutions for industry.

 

Driving growth in the sports and leisure sector

Working with RSK, we identified sports infrastructure as a key area of growth and together set out to develop a new brand and combined offer to take to market. With the help of Brandnew, we’ve developed a service offering that can deliver end-to-end sustainability solutions to the sporting world.

In October, we showcased our capabilities at Sport Positive, a leading industry event, with England rugby legend Jonny Wilkinson as our spokesperson.

 

Change management, from theory into practice

Back in 2022, we launched C:change, our bespoke methodology to deliver effective change management communications in infrastructure.

In 2023, we turned the theory into practice and delivered a range of change management programmes across construction, energy and water sectors, which are now helping companies shift from reactive to proactive maintenance, adopt digital processes and change corporate culture along the way. You can learn more, here.

 

Institute of Economic Development best practices

Earlier this year, we partnered with the Institute of Economic Development (IED) to deliver best practice training on stakeholder engagement.

Leveraging our 25-year history of stakeholder engagement, we designed, developed and delivered a bespoke training programme as part of the IED’s accreditation offer. Further training will be rolled out in 2024.

 

Infrastructure

Supporting energy transmission projects

This year, our Infrastructure team supported vital energy transmission projects across the UK. For example, we’ve been supporting clients such as National Grid, Bute Energy and Scottish Power Energy Networks as they develop a UK-wide transmission network to support a net-zero energy system.

Additionally, we’ve organised and run more than 75 in-person and virtual events across Wales, Scotland and England to bring together project developers with local communities and stakeholders to ensure that every voice is heard and listened to during project planning and development.

From the National Grid portfolio alone, we’ve launched consultations for over 300 km of new overhead lines and have engaged directly with over 75,000 people!

 

Revealing public attitudes to water infrastructure

Through our ground-breaking research on public attitudes to water infrastructure, we’ve developed compelling narratives about the importance of new and fit-for-purpose water infrastructure across the south of England.

As a result, we’ve supported local, often remote, communities to better understand complex technologies, such as desalination systems, while emphasising why reliable water infrastructure is so critical, come rain or shine!

 

Elevating the importance of solar PV

A key part of our work this year has been building political, community and interest group support for over 30 large-scale solar projects in a difficult and complex policy and stakeholder environment.

Across the solar PV ecosystem, we’ve focused on building a positive decision-making landscape that highlights the benefits of solar for all. In doing so, we’ve helped 13 solar PV clients, including Scottish Power, RWE and Statkraft, progress critical projects that will help in our race to net zero.

 

Communicating complexity to non-specialists

A notable achievement by our team has been the development of story and digital tools that help non-specialist audiences, such as local community members, better understand the complex technologies that are vital to the energy transition.

Using innovative websites, interactive maps, animations and infographics, we’ve helped companies such as Lighthouse Green Fuels, Hanson and Downing clearly communicate how their technologies work and contribute to the energy transition.

 

Growing our presence in Scotland, Wales and Ireland

With the addition of new team members, offices and projects, we’ve expanded our infrastructure reach throughout 2023. As we continue to collaborate with the wider RSK Group, we’ve become increasingly involved in renewables, low carbon, water and transport projects across the four corners of the United Kingdom and Ireland.

 

Strategic Communications

Launching Copper Connect, our political monitoring service

This year we launched our new political monitoring service, Copper Connect, which supplies a weekly roundup of parliamentary activity focused on the renewable energy sector.

 

Innovative partnership support for Bristol’s City Leap

In the spring, we helped launch Bristol City Leap, an innovative partnership between Bristol City Council and Ameresco that will deliver £500 million of investment in Bristol’s clean energy system over the next five years.

The progress of this partnership was showcased on BBC Points West and in several prominent trade and regional media publications.

 

Communications support for Innovate UK challenges

Through social media and strategic communication campaigns, we’ve helped amplify the work of several Innovate UK challenges, such as the Industrial Decarbonisation Challenge and Transforming Foundation Industries Challenge – both of which play a key role in accelerating the clean growth of UK industries by enabling innovation through investment.

 

Bigger team; more expertise

As we continue to grow and diversify our service offering, we’ve welcomed four new team members who have added to our media, press and communications expertise. We’ve also significantly expanded our digital communications and social media marketing capabilities.

 

Sky’s the limit at Padeswood

Throughout 2023, we’ve continued to provide Heidelberg Materials with communications and public affairs support for their plans to install carbon-capture technology at their Padeswood site in North Wales.

A particular highlight was supporting our client during a media visit as the project was showcased on Sky’s The Climate Show with Tom Heap.

Lisa Childs, Senior Account Director at Copper, looks ahead to what a new First Minister of Wales in 2024 means for Wales’ net zero ambitions

The news in Cardiff Bay this week was the worst-kept secret in Wales; a question of when, not if, following heavy hinting and the postponement of Welsh Labour’s annual conference from March to July 2024.

On Wednesday, Mark Drakeford announced his resignation as Welsh Labour leader. In his statement, he said: “When I stood for election as Leader of Welsh Labour, I said I would stand down during the current Senedd term. That time has now come”.

However, I don’t think anyone was expecting the announcement would come before Christmas, hurtling the WhatsApp groups of Cardiff Bay into chaos.

It was an emotional day, as we reflected on the sacrifices the First Minister made during the pandemic, the visible impact the loss of his life partner has had on him, and lamented what might have been had the Covid-19 pandemic not dominated his premiership.

Mark Drakeford succeeded Carwyn Jones as First Minister in 2018 and outlined his intention to stand down and First Minster halfway through his second term. Mr Drakeford will stay on as First Minister of Wales until his successor is elected as Welsh Labour leader, and appointed as First Minister, in March 2024.

 

Battle of the big-ticket departments

The First Minister’s announcement has sparked the firing gun on the next Welsh Labour party leadership election. The expected front runners are Vaughan Gething (Minister for Economy) and Jeremy Miles (Minister for Education and Welsh Language) – although rumours are also circling around Eluned Morgan (Health Minister) and Hannah Blythyn (Deputy Minister for Social Partnership).

Vaughan Gething has been forefront of engagement with stakeholders regarding the Celtic freeport and investment in Wales, and benefits from union support, an existing profile within the business community and, perhaps, higher public recognition due to his previous role as Health Minister during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Nonetheless, both front runners have served as prominent Cabinet members in the Welsh Government so it is likely that, no matter the outcome, we will see a continuation of the current approach towards decarbonisation and major energy and infrastructure projects.

 

What this means for energy and infrastructure policy

The First Minister has been steadfast in his commitment to net zero, with his close ally Julie James heading up the key department responsible for maximising the opportunity that net zero presents for the Welsh economy.

With the Infrastructure Bill making its way through the Senedd, the establishment of Ynni Cymru, the Celtic Sea offshore wind opportunity and other developments on the horizon, Wales is on the cusp of a green energy revolution.

However, if we are to decarbonise, if we are to reach our net zero targets, and if we are to achieve 100% of Wales’ annual electricity consumption from renewable energy by 2035, then we must also acknowledge that we do not currently have the grid connectivity to do so.

It is widely recognised that the lack of grid infrastructure is holding back the green economy; indeed, the Climate Minister, Julie James, highlighted it as the number one issue for her team at the Future Energy Wales conference held in November 2023. This would surely be a priority policy area for the incoming First Minister and their climate minister to focus on.

Another priority, which the Infrastructure Bill attempts to solve, is around the constraints in the DNS consenting process that is leading to delays and adding critical time to project lifespans.

Wales is not on track to meet its 2035 commitments unless the Welsh Government supercharge their consenting processes. Renewable UK’s Plug The Gap report questioned whether Wales’ DNS system is robust enough and up to the challenge presented by the climate emergency.

There have been 22 applications under the regime in the past 7 years, with a 41% refusal rate. Of the 9 projects refused, 44% were refused by the Minister against the Inspector’s recommendation.

Due to the long-term nature of this policy area, industry and developers will no doubt be calling out for the incoming First Minister to provide consistency, collaboration with industry, and clarity on how we are going to achieve the bold promises and targets set by the Welsh Government.

 

Clear red water?

Having governed in Wales for over 25 years, and against a backdrop of a Conservative UK Government since 2010, how the future First Minister of Wales interacts with the UK Labour team and Kier Starmer will be of interest to business leaders and commentators alike.

Both front-runner candidates are seen to be aligned to the Shadow Cabinet and their policy platform, so any potential for “clear red water” or policy divergence between the Welsh Government and potential future UK Labour Government should be kept at bay.

 

Process

Whilst Welsh Labour haven’t announced the process for electing the next leader, we can assume that it will follow the process used in 2018.

When Carwyn Jones stood down and Mark Drakeford was elected 5 years ago, Welsh Labour used the one-member-one-vote system – like the one used to elect Jeremy Corbyn.

It means all party members – and members of unions and affiliated groups – get an equal vote. So, whilst optically important, which candidates are backed by which unions and other affiliated members becomes less important. Nonetheless, we know that Vaughan Gething enjoys staunch support from the Welsh trade union movement.

In 2018, after candidates were announced, we also saw which Labour Senedd Members (then Assembly Members) nominated each candidate in the Welsh Labour Leadership Election – with Vaughan Gething and Eluned Morgan coming second and third to Mr Drakeford. Although a formality and not weighted in the election, shoring up the backing of fellow MSs will be a key target for candidates and will bolster their campaign.

A rejected alternative option in 2018 was to reform Welsh Labour’s electoral college, giving half the vote to party members and half to affiliated members. To reiterate, the process for electing a leader in 2024 is yet to be confirmed.

 

Copper Cymru

At Copper we have a growing team in Wales of highly skilled and experienced professionals dotted all around the country. We can support with strategic communications, public affairs, community relations and branding & design from project inception to delivery.

We have over 15 years’ experience in delivering for clients in Wales and are currently supporting clients with exciting projects in wind, solar, grid, carbon capture and storage, and re-industrialisation.

We’ll be following the Welsh Labour leadership election every step of the way and providing our expert analysis.

 

Let’s chat // Coffi a chlonc cyn bo hir?

To join our Copper Connect mailing list, or if you’d like support with Welsh public affairs, please get in touch with Lisa.Childs@copperconsultancy.com to find out more.

Creating change for women working in male dominated industries: Sonya Byers, CEO of Woman in Transport  

Sonya Byers, is a woman on a mission. She is the CEO of Women in Transport, a non-profit that empowers women in the transport industry to maximise their potential.  

Sonya is someone who loves what she does. Passion and enthusiasm radiates from her, and if she found a way to bottle it, I would buy it! 

Directing her own career path, she has landed exactly where she is meant to be. Not always taking the obvious and easy route to get there, she knew what was important to her and invested in the things that matter most. In both her work and personal life. Sonya has made her own destiny. Proposing herself to be the CEO of Women in Transport, despite the role not there for the taking. Creating her own career path for something she was so truly passionate about.  

“I love my job, it gives me purpose and the community is amazing. There is so much work to do, but we’re making a positive difference. If we help even one woman have a safe space to share her experiences, somewhere to help progress her career and give her the visibility to get there. Then we’ve done our job!

Sonya’s recent achievements include great feedback from initiatives like Advance mentoring programme available to all Women in Transport members. Regardless of level or discipline across transport and infrastructure. 

Women in Transport also offers a virtual leadership development programme – Lead. The eight-month programme has seen women participate on holiday, on maternity leave and with babes in arms. Nearly half of the women participating in the Lead programme so far have been promoted. 

It really is quite wonderful to see these incredible women supporting each other and inspiring others. They were already awesome; we’re just helping them shine brighter. My hope is that we continue to break down barriers for women to have equal access to development opportunities and progression.

As the Women in Transport website tells us, women still remain underrepresented in the transport sector accounting for only 26 per cent of workers. So, it wasn’t surprising to hear that Sonya began her career in transport by chance, rather than by choice. 

Having no idea about the vast breadth of careers within transport, Sonya took a job working in a traffic survey team. A short-term plan at the time, whilst looking into other options when she had finished her degree in European Business. 

Going on to become a transport planner, Sonya started to enjoy both the variety and great work culture around her. Making her think for the first time that this could be a long-term career option. Even now,  Sonya recognises how unique this experience was and that sadly it wasn’t the case for everyone coming into the industry, especially women. 

By the age of 27, Sonya was offered a technical directorship role with an offer to double her salary. Despite the temptation, she refused as it lacked that nurturing and learning culture she thrived. Over time she began to witness behaviour she wasn’t comfortable with, and slowly became more aware of the issues women faced when working in male dominated environments. That’s when she came across Women in Transport at an event and signed up. 

“I have to say I was a bit intimidated to join my first Women in Transport event, but I needn’t have worried. I was welcomed with open arms and now these women are incredible lifelong friends and I have the privilege of leading it.” 

Women in Transport started 18 years ago, and Sonya became a member three years into it starting. Joining the board in 2013 as the Events Chair building her confidence in her ability to keep going 

I always knew I had the network to fall back on. Even when I faced difficult times. When I was made redundant, people in the network offered help and support. I was so grateful for that. I knew it was going to be hard, but I knew I would be ok. And that is because of the Women in Transport network.” 

The need to have a positive work culture became even more prominent when she was later diagnosed with a long-term medical condition she never knew she had. Mental and physical health is carried over into her personal life and as parkrun Global Trustee she participates most Saturdays and Sundays. A family affair where she is joined by her husband, brother, Mum, Dad, and 3 year old daughter (who is also known to run 2k!). 

With so many hats to wear, I can’t help but admire and wonder how Sonya manages to find the motivation, energy and time to balance so much.  

“I haven’t got a magic solution. Women can have it all, but not all at the same time. Its not easy. parkrun for me is important. It’s important to my own wellbeing. Something for myself as well as doing something with my family, so I make time for it. We will always have a guilt about something and it’s a constant balancing act. But its important that the choices we make reflect what’s right for now. Some things are going to drop because of prioritising certain aspects of your life, and that’s ok.  

 

If you would like to know more about Women in Transports Advance mentoring and LEAD programme please visit: 

https://www.womenintransport.com/mentoring-advance-2024 

https://www.womenintransport.com/lead  

 

Read more she shares here

Copper Consultancy welcomes Scott McLeod, Account Manager 

 

Working within the Strategic Communications practice, Scott joins Copper from Weber Shandwick, where he worked as a Senior Associate. Scott brings a breadth of knowledge and experience working across traditional, digital and social media platforms. His experience covers a range of global corporate clients including Equinor, Jotun, Offshore Energies UK, and DLA Piper.  

 

Scott’s multi-sectoral experience includes energy, maritime, petrochemicals, technology, professional services, and infrastructure. Bringing with him over seven years of experience in media relations, technical writing, and strategic communications. At Copper, he will join a growing team of skilled communicators, creative content creators; and media relations, digital, and stakeholder engagement specialists. 

 

Having spent most of his career in the north east of Scotland, Scott has witnessed the energy transition first hand. Playing an active role in helping several oil and gas operators and supply chain companies diversify and cement their position in the renewable industry.  

 

Commenting on the appointment, James Hillier, Head of Data Insight and Strategy said: “Scott’s experience and knowledge of the renewable energy industry and technologies makes him an excellent fit for our team. His proven track record of supporting multinational and specialist organisations – across the corporate and industrial sectors – in addressing complex communications challenges will be a real asset to our business.” 

 

Find out more about Copper Consultancy’s strategic communications offer here. 

 

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

A week on from the NATS outage – an aviation industry fighting on four fronts

The UK’s air traffic control system was brought down in a “one in 15 million” event, according to a report published on Wednesday of this week.

The now infamous outage resulted in 1,500 flight cancellations on Monday 28 August alone, which had disastrous knock-on effects as this was, of course, one of the busiest days in aviation: the end of the summer holidays Bank Holiday Monday.

The NATS report also cites Eurocontrol data as showing 5,592 flights operated in UK airspace on 28 August, 2,000 (or 25%) fewer than had been expected. This includes cancelled flights and those which avoided UK airspace.

 

On Monday, Copper’s Lisa Childs was on BBC Radio Cymru’s breakfast show, Dros Frecwast, discussing what we can learn from the NATS outage through the medium of Welsh.

You can listen back here

Lisa, formerly Heathrow Airport’s External Affairs Lead, argued that critical national infrastructure needs investment to remain safe, reliable and efficient. As former Silver Commander for crises at Britain’s biggest airport, she also stated that the aviation industry – which is a complex network of thousands of private companies – needs more coordinated crisis response exercises so that major incidents like this can be avoided, or at least, their impact reduced.

 

The NATS report into the air traffic control incident was published on Wednesday.

A very narrow and technical report, detailing the root cause of the outage and solution implemented in response.

Ryanair’s Michael O’Leary has slammed the report as “rubbish”, claiming that the findings “downplay the impact on the aviation industry” and said the report was “full of excuses”. Mr O’Leary told the BBC that the disruption will cost Ryanair alone between £15m and £20m in refunds for hotels, food and alternative travel arrangements.

Industry group Airlines UK’s response was slightly more muted, focussing instead on how airlines’ costs could be covered by government or NATS. Tim Alderslade, chief executive of Airlines UK, said: “airlines cannot be the insurer of a last resort” and expressed his desire for NATS and government to explore how these costs can be covered under current legislation.

 

The UK’s aviation regulator, the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), has also announced an independent review.

The CAA are expected to report in a few months’ time. The watchdog said it could take action if NATS had breached “statutory and licensing obligations”.

In short, a mixed response from the aviation industry. This is an industry fighting on four fronts: still bearing the scars of the catastrophic impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic and absent government support; bracing itself for the challenging economic context on the horizon and what this means for consumer confidence; responding to operational realities and crises; and one which is trying to adapt to the climate crisis and convince its passengers that aviation isn’t the enemy.

On the latter challenge, amongst the NATS chatter snuck a welcome commitment from the Department from Transport to introduce a revenue certainty scheme. This was heralded as a positive step towards developing a UK sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) industry that could create over 10,000 new jobs by 2030, boost fuel security and play a major role in driving down aviation carbon emissions this decade and beyond.

The aviation industry believes that SAFs are pivotal to deliver its net zero emissions by 2050 target but warns that the opportunity to develop a domestic SAF industry is at risk without decisive action from the Government too. Industry leaders want the UK Government to focus on the rapid design and implementation of the revenue certainty scheme, so it is in place before 2026, to help meet the Jet Zero Strategy commitment of having at least five UK plants under construction by 2025.

 

To find out more about Copper Consultancy, and how we can support clients in the aviation industry, please contact Senior Account Director Lisa Childs on Lisa.Childs@copperconsultancy.co.uk