Five reasons why connecting two leading businesses is good news for our clients, our team and the infrastructure industry

Copper has announced its plans to become part of the RSK family. The opportunity to retain Copper’s brand, team and specialism while working alongside a global leader in environmental sustainable solutions is exciting for all involved. 

Martin McCrink and Ben Heatley set out five reasons this is an exciting time to be part of Copper. 

Copper’s individuality, specialism and focus is strengthened  

Copper prides itself on addressing client challenges in creative, cost effective and innovative ways. Copper’s approach with clients matters to us. The ways we work with clients will continue and we have the opportunity to further our specialisms, deepened with the support of 10,000 experts from around the world. 

Working at the forefront of global challenges 

Our net zero targets remains a long term, strategic challenge for everyone in the UK, while around the world, organisations are planning to transition to a low carbon future. On our own, we can help our clients, but working with RSK enables us to offer more wholistic solutions to the biggest challenges with access to the strength in depth of RSK’s global business.  

A team of over 150 communications specialists 

Copper’s team has grown to more than 70 consultants. We’ll be working closely with RSK Creative – a technical writing, design and creative services business. Combine this with RSK’s corporate communications team and this means together we have over 150 communications experts who can  deliver even more innovative solutions for our collective clients. 

Attracting talent  

The talent market is complex and brimming with opportunity. The weight of a global business behind us offering a range of careers, means we can provide even more rewarding career development and thereby continue to attract the brightest and most committed communications specialists.  

A responsible, sustainable, knowledgeable shareholder 

As a small business, reducing our carbon emissions and maximising our social value impact can be a challenge. But now, with the backing of a global business that specialises on the fight against climate change RSK and Copper will be working together to reduce our impact on the planet and to increase our value to society. That will happen by assessing our own operations, but also by supporting the largest and most impactful energy transition projects in the UK and around the world. 

 

Specialist infrastructure communications consultancy forms a new partnership with leading global environmental solutions business RSK. The agreement enables RSK and Copper to: 

  • help clients navigate the key challenges of our time – net zero, cost of living and economic growth 
  • offer a more complete range of services to fulfil client demands 
  • reach new geographical markets and industry sectors 

RSK Group, a global leader in the delivery of sustainable solutions, has agreed a partnership with specialist infrastructure communications firm, Copper Consultancy. 

Copper specialises in building understanding and acceptance of infrastructure with the public, stakeholders, the media, government and elected representatives, while helping organisations to protect and enhance their reputations. The agreement provides an opportunity to take on more and increasingly complex client challenges. 

As part of the agreement, Copper will retain its brand, clients and management team. Copper will work closely with RSK Creative – a design and technical writing specialist business within the RSK group. Together with RSK’s corporate communications team, RSK now has a network of more than 150 communications experts covering strategy, marketing, data, planning support, construction, corporate, crisis, social, design and creative services. 

RSK Group CEO Alan Ryder said: “Copper’s infrastructure communications skills are an excellent addition to our Group, naturally complementing our enduring focus on engineering and environmental solutions and enhancing our client service.  

“This solutions-based approach is now more important than ever. As we face global challenges, changing how we live, our wish is to consult and explain these changes in a way which raises public awareness and understanding to ensure everyone can participate in this transition in a meaningful way.” 

Copper’s Managing Partners, Martin McCrink and Ben Heatley, said: “The UK is facing unprecedented challenges around net zero and the cost of living crisis. One of the levers industry and government can pull is to invest in infrastructure to modernise the country, boost productivity and enhance sustainability. Working closely with RSK gives Copper the opportunity to broaden the solutions we offer to clients and help them overcome the challenges they will face. 

“Copper is ambitious for the future. This relationship creates a platform for us to achieve those ambitions, allowing us to reach clients, markets and geographies that we couldn’t access on our own. We are excited to be able to support RSK with its ambitions to grow in the UK and around the world.” 

Copper’s growth has been significant in recent years. This agreement will enable Copper to continue with an ambitious strategy in the years to come, enabling access to new markets, clients and talent. For RSK it enables the company to offer an even broader range of specialist services to the infrastructure industry, and to tackle the most demanding challenges with teams of experts from across the business.  

As RSK continues to deliver its ambitious growth strategy it is now comprised of more than 175 companies, employing 10,000 people. The Group’s annual turnover at the end of FY22 is expected to be in excess of £800 million, more than double the previous year.  

 

Copper expresses our deep condolences to the Royal Family. The Queen has given immeasurable service to the United Kingdom, and will never be forgotten.

While it may still seem a long way off, we are fast approaching party conference season – and this year’s conference season promises to be among the most pivotal in recent times for the infrastructure sector.

The Conservative Party Conference in Birmingham will be the first major set piece event for the Party’s new leader and the UK’s new Prime Minister. In Liverpool, the Labour Party will be keen to demonstrate that they are a government in waiting. Meanwhile, the Liberal Democrats will be making their way to Brighton, hoping to show they can offer different solutions to the challenges the UK is facing.

We have set out below the three main reasons why party conference season should not be missed this year for those in the infrastructure sector:

 

  1. It is the perfect way to build a strong understanding of the new infrastructure policy landscape

Debate around infrastructure policy has been a key part of the Conservatives leadership hustings. Whilst those hustings provide an early indication on the direction of travel, Conference will see a new government start to provide greater detail on their plans.

It is also worth noting that what is said at hustings during the leadership campaign is aimed predominantly at winning votes from Conservative members, whereas the new government will be seeking more national appeal at Conference.

Finally, fringe events will allow new ministers and influential MPs to go into more detail about their views and policy ideas – and crucially, provide an opportunity for you to ask questions about the policies that matter to your organisation. Only by being at Conference can you get this level of understanding.

 

  1. Conference will give you a head start in getting to know who is who, and understanding what drives the new government

A new Prime Minister does not just mean a change in who occupies Number 10. It means the creation of a whole new administration.  While there may well be some familiar faces, from ministers, to advisers, to officials, there is going to be significant change in personnel. Conference is the perfect time to build new relationships and crucially gain a better understanding of what the new administration think – from fringe events to meetings.

 

  1. Start to insulate your organisation against political change

While last year’s Labour Party conference in Brighton was a pivotal one for Sir Keir Starmer as he sought to sure up his leadership, this year’s conference looks to be even more critical as the party seeks to demonstrate that it is a government in waiting.

Conference plays an important part in both the Lib Dem and Labour’s policy making process, and what is discussed in fringe and on the floor could feasibly become government policy in years to come.  Party Conference’s therefore represent an opportunity to listen and engage with policy at the early stage, and again, to understand who is driving these policy positions within respective Parties.

 

Copper will be in attendance at Labour Party Conference (Liverpool 25 – 28 Sept), Conservative Party Conference (Birmingham 2 – 5 Oct) and Liberal Democrat Conference (17 -20 Sept). We would be delighted to discuss how we can support you this conference season.

To arrange an introductory meeting or catch-up session while at Labour Party Conference please contact patrick.traynor@copperconsultancy.com , at Conservative Party Conference, please contact pearce.branigan@copperconsultancy.com and at Liberal Democrat Party Conference, please contact imogen.fawcett@copperconsultancy.com.

 

We are also hosting dinners for those in the infrastructure sector at Labour and Conservative conferences, please do get in touch with the team above if you are interested in attending.

Copper Consultancy clients, National Grid and Siemens Energy, are supporting Marie Curie and Mind. 

While working on the Hinkley Point C Connection Project, the National Grid and Siemens Energy team have cycled over 350 miles in four days to raise money for terminal illness support charity, Marie Curie, and mental health charity, Mind. 

The six-man team started the cycle on 1 July in Heaton, Newcastle and finished four days later in Sandford, Somerset – where a brand-new substation is being built as part of the Hinkley Connection project. The 351-mile route went through busy cities and towns on the way, including Birmingham, Rotherham, Derby, Gloucester, and Bristol. 

The team included National Grid’s Hinkley Connection Project Director, James Goode, and Siemens Energy Head of Transmission Systems (UK), Mark Tiernan. 

On completing the challenge, James Goode commented: 

“It was an absolute pleasure to successfully finish over 500km of cycling for such worthwhile causes. A huge thank you to everyone involved and for the generosity of those who helped us raise the money.” 

Mark Tiernan said after the event: 

“It was a tough few days of riding, but knowing it was all for a good cause helped the team pull through together.” 

The motivation behind supporting these worthwhile causes was close to the hearts of all involved, helping to power the team over steep hills and across tough terrain. The six riders were followed by two support drivers who provided food and drink and resolved any problems with the bikes. 

The team ended the ride on a high, having raised over £12,000, which will be shared with the two charities to support their valuable work. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Transport for the North is refreshing the Strategic Transport Plan, which was published in 2019, setting out the investment needed to transform the lives of people in the North and level up the country. Even though the North is home to over 15 million people and 1.1 million businesses, the region’s overall productivity still trails behind the UK average.

The Strategic Transport Plan sets out a bold vision for connecting people to jobs, health, education and leisure opportunities – all of which are fundamental aspects of life. To rebalance decades of underinvestment and transform the North, the plan identifies different modes which require coordinated investment, such as rail, roads, smart travel and sustainable transport. Transport for the North is also working on developing a new Analytical Framework that will be able to model future economic impacts based on various scenarios, alongside planning for more tight-knit relationships with the North’s Local Transport Authorities (LTAs).

A key element of the major road network would be to deliver the needs of rural communities, ensuring that the transport networks support access to jobs and education. The Strategic Transport Plan outlines how multimodal strategic investment in new transport infrastructure could support up to £100 billion growth in GVA, which will create an additional 850,000 jobs by 2050.

Copper welcomes Transport for the North’s commitment to sustainable transport, as it is crucial that alongside investment in rail and roads, more is done to encourage behaviour change to increase various forms of active travel. As mentioned in the plan and recently updated policy positions, targeting short trips that could be undertaken by public transport, cycling or walking, and moving people away from driving, is not good only for the environment but also for people’s health. Investing in improved public transport, cycle lanes and walking infrastructure is beneficial to everyone and can also positively impact the footfall in city centres, therefore improving economic growth.

All of this is crucial to achieving the goals set in the document, and should be carefully considered while the plan is being refreshed in a world of changing behaviours and uncertainty. Transport for the North should now consider developing a meaningful and thorough engagement strategy that will enable the body to better understand where the improvements are needed the most to simultaneously boost economic growth and net zero travel.

The body should also consider the most effective way to engage with all levels of local government in a shifting local authority landscape, in light of the recent Levelling Up White Paper devolution proposals. While the plan is about addressing regional connectivity, refreshing the plan will also require proactive and considered contributions by TfN’s member authorities who understand local issues across the region.

The latest Copper Consultancy’s Public Attitudes Research finds that the more an individual knows about infrastructure, the more likely they are to engage with projects. That’s why understanding people is one of the crucial steps to successful engagement – involving both people who will be affected by the changes, as well as those who will benefit the most.

Learn more about TfN’s Strategic Transport Plan and the refreshed work here.

In response to growing industry demand for bespoke branding and creative services, Copper Consultancy has expanded its creative team with the addition of four new creatives.  Studio Manager Coel Wheeler, Graphic Designer Mudasser Hussain, Designer Holly Constable, and Artworker Sophia Dunne, have all joined the team.

The new appointments to the Copper team have more than 30 years’ of experience between them and will support the wider growth of the business by providing high value visual storytelling for clients across the construction, infrastructure and economic development sectors.

Coel has over 10 years design management experience across a number of sectors including sports, events, manufacturing, and retail. Some highlights include leading the design team for Bristol Sport and working as a graphic designer for former Premier League club Derby County.  His diverse skillset includes art direction, typography, mac, web design and page layout.

Mudassar joins with over 15 years’ experience as a multi-disciplinary graphic designer working in design thinking, strategy, digital marketing, and visual communications. Before joining Copper, Mudassar worked for a number of large utility and energy companies including Anglian Water, Equinor and Ørsted.

Holly is a designer with a wealth of experience across digital, print, and social campaigns, and specialises in information and layout design. She has over 5 years graphic design and digital marketing experience working with global brands such as EE, Corona and Budweiser.

Sophia adds expertise in illustrative and bespoke content and is passionate about storytelling through animation and videography. She has provided design work for some of the largest infrastructure projects in the UK for clients such as Hydrogen South West and National Grid.

Copper introduced its dedicated design, brand and digital communications practice in 2020 which has gone from strength to strength, helping to offer more impactful and engaging design for major infrastructure companies and projects. Clients include RWE, HyNet, National Grid, CK Delta, Wildfox Resorts and a host of renewable energy developers.

Annabel John, Director, Strategic Communications & Creative, commented on the new hires:

“Information surrounding infrastructure can be hard to access and as a result there is a need across the industry for accessible and informative content. By bringing projects to life through visual storytelling we can explain technical and complicated concepts in an easy to understand way.

“The new additions to our creative team will allow us to expand our creative service offering to help our clients stand out from design to delivery.”

For more information on the creative team please visit: https://copperconsultancy.com/what-we-do/creative/

  • Age does not necessarily correlate with levels of involvement with local issues.
  • Only 24% of the UK population are actively engaged with projects that impact in their local area.
  • Younger people are more likely to engage with projects as a result of increased use of digital.

Copper Consultancy has today (28 July 2022) released the second of three reports in its Attitudes series. The new report looks at the impact of age on levels of engagement in infrastructure projects and shows that the correlation between age and engagement is not as strong as expected.

A common assumption in the infrastructure industry is that individuals who typically engage with planning applications and consultations are from an older age demographic. However, Copper’s research, informed by a nationally representative survey of 4,004 people, tells a different story.

The report “Does age matter?” found little correlation between the age of individuals and their level of engagement with projects impacting their local area. Around 40% of people between the ages of 16 and 45 say they would get involved if there was a problem in their local area – this dropped to around 30% for older age demographics.

In fact, younger demographics were more likely than older people to consider themselves an active member of their local area. This was further evidenced when respondents were asked how often they take part in local consultations. Over 50% of people aged between 16-24 said they had engaged with consultation about local services or issues in the last 5 months, for individuals over 55 this fell to 14.61%

Increased engagement from younger age groups is an encouraging sign for our industry, but Copper urges caution to those considering pivoting towards wholly digital consultation.

The uptake of digital communication methods, like virtual meetings and consultation spaces, following the pandemic has increased the number of engagement tools at our disposal, but digital is not a panacea for low levels of engagement. Providing engagement opportunities for younger demographics to engage through digital means needs to be one element of a multifaceted approach to engagement – a one size fits all approach could lead to a lack of representation of older people in the built environment.

Annabel John, Strategic Communications and Creative Director at Copper Consultancy said: “Our new report shows the link between age and involvement with projects is not a strong as we previously thought. This shows the value of using data and statistics to uncover deeper insights into the various audiences we engage with.

“Our insight suggests projects should combine digital engagement and traditional approaches to achieve greater reach. In doing so, we can encourage better inclusivity and representativeness of the views and opinions we collect during the application and consultation process.”

Copper Consultancy is constantly seeking to build an even deeper understanding of the infrastructure industry by investing time and resources to understand how people think and feel about the built environment that serves them.

Copper’s ‘Attitudes’ series of reports are designed to take a deep dive into the UK population to better understand audiences and help clients create the legacy that projects wish to leave behind.

You can read the full report here.