Friday Feed

This Week's Construction News Update

🚆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. 

 

 

 

Sheridan Hilton, Senior Account Manager in the Construction Practice, recently attended the Social Value UK Conference 2023. He gives his thoughts on what he learnt and what is next for social value.  

In 2022, the UK celebrated the 10th anniversary of the Public Services (Social Value) Act 2012. Maximising the social impact of every pound spent is now firmly entrenched within industry, but as was discussed this week, measuring meaningful social impact is not always clear cut.

At this year’s Social Value UK ( SVUK) Conference, attendees heard from a range of experts, including Cllr Bev Craig, Leader of Manchester City Council, who gave an impassioned keynote speech about the need to engage at all levels. Cllr Craig argued that if social value is to truly transform places in a meaningful way, it requires cross sector partnership working to deliver better outcomes for local communities. A point echoed throughout the day.

This absolutely echoes Copper’s views on the matter, specifically, on the importance of understanding the communities that we want to support, and reaffirmed our belief that these improvements to collaboration and information gathering are the building blocks of successful social value delivery.

Matthew McKew, Advocacy and Communications Lead at  SVUK, was emphatic when he said that ‘valuation enables decision making’. This was also a point which Erik Bishard, Director at RealWorth, was keen to reinforce: Social Return on Investment (SROI) provides real worth to social value activities, and should be used to help inform decision making.

They both make a very valid point. Only by understanding what has changed for the communities, can we establish the impact created. Once captured, we can then make decisions on how we act on the impact generated.

 

Weighing Up What Matters

Referring to this impact, it was particularly interesting to hear Adrian Ashton, Enterprise Consultant, suggest that whilst measuring tools such as TOMs and HACT are useful for valuing social impact, they do not necessarily represent the whole story. Equally, if not more important is ensuring the needs of communities remain front and centre of any social value activity. Kate Graefe from ProSustain reinforced this point when she spoke about the need to understand what is truly important to our communities, and  explained the need for ‘nuanced data capture to understand local need.’

Capturing the data is clearly important, and Adrian and Kate reminded listeners that we should use data values as a hook to get the conversation started, and not let that be the end of the story. Delivering social value in partnership helps to ensure it remains relevant to the community, and allows each partner can play to their strengths, bringing something distinct to support communities which the other cannot.

 

Leaving a legacy to support sustainable change          

Ultimately, everyone agreed that organisations and social value practitioners should always want to do better, by  pushing forward with opportunities for industry to support new and existing communities, leaving and ultimately leaving a lasting legacy.

By its definition, sustainability suggests ‘continuing indefinitely into the future.’ If social value delivers what communities need and expect, then there is a strong chance a real legacy will be created.

 

The last piece of the jigsaw      

Whilst there are many opportunities to harness the benefit of sustainable impact, some challenges remain. Not least the struggle, by many, to understand the concept of social value. Copper’s newly published Social Value Attitudes Report, highlights that while the sector has been getting increasingly strategic about the way it gives back to communities, the public’s understanding of all of that work hasn’t always kept pace.

This reiterates what came out so strongly at the conference – the need to understand what is truly important to our communities, and how to best use data to capture it.

Finally, it is also fair to say that a lack of a standard definition is not helping to clear the fog of confusion. It was fantastic to hear Social Value UK announce their Political Manifesto at the conference, and meeting their ambition to get the industry to settle on a standard definition will be pivotal. Copper looks forward to working with SVUK on developing this manifesto further and ensuring that our industry and beyond work collaboratively to deliver on the needs and priorities of our communities and stakeholders.

 

Do you need help with writing bids, local insight gathering, developing social value strategies or community engagement? Get in touch here.

In the built environment we have gradually become more and more accustomed to the term ‘social value’ or as we showed in an earlier Copper Industry Insights Report, another term that expresses the same thing, community investment, CSR, social impact, ESG, etc.

Given the challenges around consenting major projects, this points to a greater role in improving the understanding of ‘added value’ that can be derived and delivered to audiences that currently don’t recognise these benefits. Effective, well-tailored social value can be transformative for community/stakeholder relationships, particularly with those who have just been focusing on concerns like construction-stage impact and only expecting detriment.

To read our report, on public attitudes to social value click here.

I had always wanted to experience an internship.

This has come from my desire to begin working in a professional workplace. My time at Copper as an intern in the Construction Practice has been fascinating. This includes tasks such as going door to door to inform residents of work in their area for Network Rail, to producing stakeholder audits for National Grid.  

 

No two days are the same.

Everything I have done has gone towards developing the relationship with our clients and the residents that our projects are aiming to help. As a politics student, we often learn of concepts of diplomacy and collaboration. Nowhere has this been more evident to me, as it has been whilst working at Copper. Of course, the level of diplomacy required when engaging with stakeholders who may have adverse feelings towards the projects, and working with clients on how best to respond is paramount.

 

We try to keep everyone happy- just like the United Nations do in international relations!

When this hasn’t been possible, I have been taught how to tackle this in the most efficient way. Utilising my knowledge of the projects, as well as the enquiries that come from residents, to develop a plan to help mitigate the impact on the resident, whilst not hindering the project.  

 

Why Copper?

Whilst the construction industry may not appear to be the natural place for a politics student. However, at Copper I have found a company that have welcomed me with open arms. This has helped me to develop my communication and stakeholder engagement skills. All useful skills in politics! 

 

Your Experience At Copper

One of the best parts of working for Copper has definitely been the team I have had the pleasure of working with. From the Account Executives to the Directors, everyone is caring and willing to help at a moment’s notice. Not only, does this helps to make sure all jobs are complete but also, that I get the support I need. Instead of being told you’re doing something wrong, the senior team will have a conversation to establish your thought process. They then take the time to explain how it differs from their approach. In fact, it never feels condescending, but instead, I am able to learn from people more experienced who are there to help. The team always provide constructive feedback to help me become the best I can be. 

It is fascinating being part of the communications team working on Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects (NSIPs) as part of my internship. I have learnt so much and would highly recommend an internship as part of a work experience programme. Knowing that I have contributed to supporting Britain in becoming Net Zero is a great feeling. Also, this is the reason I study politics, to help make the world a better place for everyone. 

The number of business premises used for transport, logistics and warehousing in the UK has almost doubled over the past ten years.

As reported by the Financial Times, “COVID-19 has led to a surge in ecommerce and CBRE estimates that an additional 300m sq ft of warehouse space will be needed in Europe by 2025. The UK, already one of the most developed ecommerce markets in the world, will require an extra 60m sq ft of space — equivalent to 14% of existing warehouse space.”

No easy task

Logistics plays a huge role in the UK economy. It is estimated that the sector is worth £55 billion, comprising 5% of GDP and employing more than 1.7m people. With the continued growth in online shopping since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the logistics sector is poised to go from strength to strength.

The infrastructure required to deliver 60m sq ft of space is no easy task. While steps are already being taken to grow warehouse space and, with logistics one of the fastest growing sectors in the UK, it’s essential that both central and local government recognise the need for warehousing, according to the UK Warehousing Association[1].

A bigger seat at the table`

The political landscape over recent years has centred on building houses. But it’s vital that warehousing is supported across all tiers of government and treated as much a priority in planning policy, in the same way that housing and education facilities are often welcomed by local authorities to meet national targets.

While logistics infrastructure won’t ever need to take priority over housing and education, it should have a seat at the planning table. The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said new orders for the construction of warehouses were worth £5.6bn in 2021, higher than in any year since 1985.

West Midlands Interchange

A key example of this is the West Midlands Interchange (WMI), being delivered by Logistics Capital Partners (LCP) and Oxford Properties. WMI is A DCO approved development site, with consent to develop a strategic rail freight interchange in the West Midlands and deliver up to 8 million sq ft of Class A Logistics warehousing, in the middle of the so-called logistics “golden triangle”. 

The development is centrally located in the UK, northwest of Birmingham in the key West Midlands logistics corridor. It will deliver significant economic benefit to the region by creating 8,500 jobs and a further 8,100 indirect jobs. It is also expected to generate around £430 million of local economic activity and, through the supply chain, more than £900 million of economic activity nationally each year.

Soon to be the largest logistics site in the UK, it will showcase what can be delivered to support the industry and economy.

How do you generate public support for logistics developments?

Achieving widespread public support for logistics and warehousing is not easy. Local residents and community groups need to be engaged with at the earliest opportunity when it comes to building new infrastructure.

The visual impact on the landscape is always going to be a key factor when considering support for a development, particularly one that includes significant warehouse space and an entirely new road network to support vehicle movements.

Developments such as WMI are working to deliver multimodal access to support net zero targets, and have engaged with local councillors and community groups. Considering environmental and local impacts, aesthetics and access is intrinsic to success.

So what steps can you take?  

  1. Early engagement: Talk to local communities, prior to planning application submission
  2. Community input: Allowing local communities some autonomy and input into design features such as community parks or local area improvements
  3. Tell the story: Ensure you tell a clear story about the project – its benefits to the local economy, employment opportunity, net zero aims, traffic management and how you will minimise construction disruption

In conclusion, while large scale infrastructure developments will never be universally popular, they are essential to the backbone of our economy. Inadequate infrastructure negatively impacts the UK and will reduce the efficiency of the logistics sector.

It is vital that infrastructure is in place to support new warehousing and logistics facilities to meet post-COVID demand. Managing public support is a necessity for success in this world and community engagement must be at the forefront of plans.

[1] https://www.ukwa.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/Savills-UKWA-A4-8pp-Report-Interactive3.pdf

July sees the start of the Festival of Archaeology. The festival helps over half a million people participate in archaeology, explore stories of place, and connect with the environment around them.

To mark the Festival of Archaeology we sat down with Sam Fieldhouse, Community and Education Manager at Wessex Archaeology, to learn more about Wessex’s work to connect people with project archaeology and the power it has to teach and enhance the experiences of individuals and organisations alike.

Wessex Archaeology is the UK’s leading provider of archaeological and heritage services, and an educational charity. Established for 40 years, Wessex offer a range of services with organisations across sectors, including construction, to deliver practical, sustainable solutions to manage the historic environment. Wessex’s experience and knowledge helps projects engage communities and enhances the value of national historical assets.

What gives heritage its unique value?

It can be quite hard to understand life 3,000 years ago, but daily life was very similar. We all come from the same people, so heritage can give people an empathetic understanding of each other. We are all intrinsically connected to one another, we’re intrinsically connected to the land and heritage connects us to all of these things.

For me it’s about using archaeology as a hook, it can be a stimulus for learning about ourselves, building empathy with people who lived in our world in the past. It’s about understanding how the things have changed and it’s about telling that story to communities. Heritage gives us the opportunity to form a sense of place and to look back at where we’ve come from and where we’re going.

Through heritage we have the opportunity facilitate engagement with the landscape, the archaeological process, and those discoveries. From this we enhance well-being and learning about science, culture and heritage.

What do large construction projects unlock in terms of local history and heritage?

Big infrastructure gives us a unique opportunity to see large amounts of archaeology that we would otherwise not be able to. We work with construction projects to celebrate the archaeology and to give communities the opportunity to engage with it for decades to come.

If it wasn’t for these projects, we may never understand the history of certain communities. We’re able to tell people about their history as the their future is being shaped by new infrastructure.

How can archaeology be brought to life for communities?

It’s our drive to tell stories in a way that different audiences will understand. We look at the barriers people may have when interacting with archaeology in order to improve their understanding and enable them to reflect on the historical significance of a site.

We conducted a dig for a new housing project for soldiers returning from Germany and found that 3,000 years ago settlers from another country came to that site. Fast forward to the present and we’re seeing the same story unfold, so we used it as an opportunity for people to think about their legacy – what will they leave behind that people may one day come across. We won’t always make huge discoveries, but we know any find will be of importance to people. We look at ways to collaborate with organisations that invites local communities and wider audiences to discover the history of a project landscape.

How does archaeology shape community engagement for construction projects?

Archaeological activity can be used as a hook to spark interest and it’s a really good way for contractors to engage with communities, build understanding and advocacy,

We provide the opportunity to enhance public perception of a project, unlocking the potential to go beyond what is set out within the planning stages and get people excited and involved in a positive way.

Working with Wessex, Copper has developed engagement strategies and programmes for construction projects, encouraging people to discover the archaeology and heritage that is all around them – unearthing the journey of sites that make local communities so special.

You can find out more about the Festival of Archaeology on their website

As the first quarter of 2022 comes to an end, we have been reflecting on and celebrating the achievements of Copper’s Construction Practice.

From a recruitment perspective we are delighted to have welcomed several new starters to the Construction Practice, to support a strong start to the year and further growth.

While our Director, Caroline Romback, has been appointed to the board of the Considerate Constructors Scheme (CCS) as a non-executive director, enabling us to further contribute to knowledge and best practice sharing across our client, contractor and consultant audiences, and wider industry.

As part of that knowledge sharing, we’ve delivered a range of thought leadership campaigns. Back in February, our paper: ‘Levelling up: a construction perspective’, was published and unpacked across media/social media.  This document helped decipher the contents and reactions to Michael Gove’s Levelling Up White Paper, which sets out how the Government will spread levelling up opportunities more equally across the country and the impact these new policies will have on the construction sector. Our news story analyses the 12 topics incorporated in the paper and how this will impact the future of UK construction.

Also in February, we were proud to highlight talent across the industry as part of National Apprenticeship Week. We drew on the skills of individuals from our clients, featuring some incredible professionals from Transpennine Route Upgrade (East), National Highways, J.P Murphy and Sons, and Eiffage. All those who featured spoke with passion and authority on the benefits of recruiting apprentices.

In March, Copper hosted an industry leaders round table, in partnership with Construction News, focused on how we build back better with Equality, Diversity and Inclusion. Participating organisations, including HS2, Heathrow, Considerate Constructors Scheme and multiple Tier 1 contractors, shared their insights and best practice from across the sector.

We were also privileged to showcase a diverse range of leading women during Women in Construction Week and International Women’s Day, including features from inspirational women, such as Carolyne Ferguson from Kier Highways, Natalie Penrose from HS2, and our very own Fiona Woolston.

Copper is proud to ‘buck the trend’ with our Construction Practice having such a strong female presence. We’ve long been advocates for inclusivity in the Construction industry and are proud to practice what we preach.

March also saw us confirming our membership of Social Value UK, aligning with our Social Value specialism at Copper and an increasing focus in this area in support of contractors and clients developing early approaches at bid stage, through to on the ground delivery at construction stage.

Our final highlight for March is our response to the Spring Statement Report by Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, to highlight and explain what the government’s fiscal decisions mean for the UK Construction industry and its impact on our sector in the years to come.

We’re only three months in, but our plans for the rest of the year remain just as ambitious.  Our next exciting event is Net Zero: A Material Consideration. This breakfast panel discussion will feature construction product manufacturers, architects, contractors, and consultancies. It will consider some of the ways in which the built environment can address Net Zero carbon and explore the steps the industry is taking to increase the circularity of the construction industry.

We’re celebrating the 10th anniversary of the Social Value Act by asking Social Value industry experts to contribute to a Copper podcast led campaign and insight report. We look forward to sharing the findings with our network.

We’ll also be attending UK Construction Week (London) in May 2022, the UK’s largest built environment event with various shows and stalls, allowing us to engage with our wider construction colleagues.

For more information on our work, or if you’re interested in discussing this article further, please get in touch with our Director, Caroline Romback, at: caroline.romback@copperconsultancy.com

Challenge

Hinkley Point C nuclear power station is part of the Government’s strategy to keep the lights on in the UK. National Grid is building a high-voltage grid connection for the project, between Bridgwater and Seabank near Avonmouth. In 2009, we were tasked to develop and deliver a consultation strategy to support the Development Consent Order application. We have been retained ever since, taking this major project from planning through to construction. The project is in construction, and we continue to support National Grid and its contractors. Our team also works to protect and enhance National Grid’s reputation to leave a positive legacy for the project.

CS-Insight-v2

Insight

Hinkley Point C is a nationally significant infrastructure project and a major investment in the region’s electricity network. However, there was significant local opposition to the proposals throughout the planning and development stages. This posed a risk to the project if it were to continue into the construction stage. We needed to switch the communications approach from ‘reactive’ to ‘proactive’ and reposition the narrative to concentrate on the project’s benefits.

CS-Strategy-v2

Strategy

We worked closely with National Grid’s team to identify and promote positive stories about the project. We used this as the foundation to develop and implement a sustainable programme of project communications. Ensuring that we met the formal requirements of the Development Consent Order.

To minimise the risks of project delays, opposition and criticism we provided clear and timely information to stakeholders about the work in their area. Quickly responding to any concerns. We devised procedures to inform and update local communities and other stakeholders about construction work. Additionally, informing them about the steps National Grid and its contractors take to reduce local impact. We also put processes in place to monitor the mood of local communities, allowing us to identify and respond rapidly to any emerging issues.

Amplify

Since construction started, we have communicated with more than 10,000 households. We also maintain and regular update a project website, making it the ‘go to’ place for stakeholders to learn the latest information. We have established positive relationships with local community groups and parish councils and use these links to help spread information as widely as possible. Should there be any concerns amongst the public, a responsive 24-hour contact centre service enables the local community to get a swift response.

Outcome

Despite the highly disruptive nature of the work, there is widespread public acceptance of the project. A minimal number of complaints have been received and no issues have been escalated by local residents or community stakeholders to the media or their elected members. These successes have given National Grid the confidence to reposition the project narrative going forward. In the future, communications and engagement will place an even greater emphasis on the positive impact and benefits National Grid will bring to the area over the next five years and beyond.

Challenge

Cadent is carrying out essential gas mains replacement work across London. They are replacing ageing metal gas pipes with new plastic ones. Our role is to work closely with Cadent and their contractors to deliver a strong communications strategy. Ensuring all affected communities and stakeholders know the benefits and critical nature of the works.

CS-Insight-v2

Insight

The work poses potential disruption to those living in the community and local businesses. With the risk of negative community reaction and opposition, a challenge was ahead of us. Utilising communications to articulate how Cadent is committed to delivering gas mains replacement works across London. Ensuring communications take into account high profile areas, and amplify work is carried out in the safest and fastest way possible to local communities.

Cadent is making sure the customer experience of gas works is as non-disruptive as possible. Our role was vital to promote the economic and community benefits of the gas mains replacement programme.

In granting Cadent permission to undertake the work, Transport for London and local authorities in multiple London boroughs asked for a significant commitment to stakeholder engagement.

CS-Strategy-v2

Strategy

Our targeted strategic approach concentrates on articulating the essential nature of these gas mains replacement works. Seeking to develop a mutual understanding and tolerance for the work amongst communities across London.

We continue to explain the consideration given to residents and businesses in the planning of works and efforts to keep disruption to a minimum. While emphasising the long-term benefits for the capital. We have also implemented processes to protect Cadent’s reputation and minimise adverse reactions.

Amplify

We created and continue to maintain a robust communications narrative around the project’s community and safety considerations. We are working with Cadent and contractor teams to ensure they live these values. Our team is continually producing promotional materials to explain the needs for the works. This helps to translate complex engineering information into concise explanations to generate understanding and acceptance from the public.

Public exhibitions, community liaison working group meetings and briefings were all tools to our success. Such events relating to key developments intended for local MPs, councils, schools, businesses and the wider public are integral to our engagement strategy. This is underpinned by providing regular stakeholder updates through email and letters to mitigate risk of project delays and sustained stakeholder opposition.

To mitigate the risk of project delays, negative media coverage or sustained stakeholder opposition, we respond to stakeholder feedback. Using the expertise and specialist information provided by Cadent project teams working across London.

Outcome

This project is ongoing. So far, we have successfully helped Cadent articulate the importance of investing in London’s gas mains replacement programme to millions of stakeholders. Clear, concise, relevant and timely information and materials are being delivered every day. We have improved political, business and community stakeholder relationships with Cadent.  As well as communication channels between Cadent and the city’s other key service providers.