2020 has been one of the most challenging years that anyone can remember.

First and foremost the Covid-19 pandemic has been a human tragedy, with people across the UK and around the world having been exposed to a potentially deadly disease, which has also created seismic shifts in day to day life, and widespread social and economic upheaval.

The Covid crisis has created widespread challenges for our clients who have had to find ways to progress some of the largest and most challenging infrastructure projects in the world, and the whole industry has had to rapidly relearn how we do things.

Overcoming challenges through innovation

Throughout this difficult time, the Copper team has continued to support projects and our clients to achieve their goals and results. We have helped projects adapt to the new-normal, enabling them to deliver effective, engaging, efficient and, crucially legally compliant, engagement and consultation programmes that have progressed in the face of widespread disruption.

Working for London Resort, we have successfully delivered one of the UK’s first digital only DCO consultations, which not only managed to achieve widespread in-depth engagement from the local community and stakeholders but also increased the volume of participation in the consultation process. We have also delivered ground-breaking digital first consultation and engagement programmes for companies including Cardiff Parkway, Cadent, National Grid, Highways England and LM JV.

Necessity is the mother of invention

One effect that Covid and the associated lockdown has had, is to drive forward innovation and adoption of technology. Copper has remained at the forefront of that trend, with us continuing to set new standards of best practice, including launching our guide to digital communications and engagement. The approach to engagement must evolve, so that a wider range of stakeholders is able to actively participate in meaningful consultation, and the digital revolution is essential to achieving that goal.

Continued track record of success

Our clients have achieved significant successes this year, with projects including Highways England’s A30 Chiverton to Carland Cross, Vattenfall’s Vanguard windfarm, Manston Airport and West Midlands Interchange having achieved planning consent from the Secretary of State. Copper has been able to maintain its 100% record of achieving acceptance for its DCO projects from the Planning Inspectorate and then gaining consent from the Minister.

Meanwhile, a wide range of projects have reached and successfully passed major milestones on the way towards planning consent, including Highways England’s A303 Stonehenge, East West Rail, Lower Thames Crossing. We are also supporting Manston Airport with its airspace consultation which is helping to reshape the aerospace infrastructure of the South East.

New challenges and opportunities

Copper is also at the forefront of the ongoing levelling up agenda, where we are actively supporting the Government’s £3.6bn Towns Fund programme, in a consortium featuring Arup, Nichols, FutureGov, Grant Thornton and Savills. This forms the centre of Copper’s newly unveiled Economic Development practice, which is headed by James Gore and seeks to support public and private clients as they seek to transform the fortunes of UK towns and cities.

Looking to the future, we are proud that Copper has been brought on to support a wide range of new and exciting projects, including major transport developments for clients including Highways England, West of England Combined Authority and East West Rail. Along with energy projects on behalf of Scottish Power, National Grid, Vattenfall and Cadent. Working alongside WSP, we are also supporting the HyNet consortium, in their ambitious plans to establish a centre of the hydrogen economy in North West England.

Building Back Better

On the back of this widespread success, and to respond to the needs of our increasingly challenging and high profile projects, Copper has recruited a wide range of senior talent, who bring new skills, experience and expertise to further enhance the services we can offer to our clients.

It’s been a difficult year for everyone across the UK, as we have come to terms with a once in a lifetime global event, and the enormous social change it has brought about. Infrastructure is a critical element of the country’s recovery, and Copper is proud to support our clients as they help to Build Back Better.