Unveiling Insights from the new NSIP Guidance Notes

Download the report here.


On Tuesday 30 April 2024, the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) published six guidance notes for Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects (NSIPs), all of which can be accessed from a central ‘National Infrastructure Planning Guidance Portal’.

The guidance has been produced in recognition of the Planning Act now being in operation for over a decade, and reflects several changes made to the guidance over that time. It also reflects the engagement DLUHC has had with users on its ‘clarity and helpfulness’ along with good practice, presumably from projects that have been/are going through the DCO process over this decade-plus period.

The report covers:
  • Updated guidance including Acceptance, pre-examination and examination
  • New guidance
  • Fast-track guidance
  • What does the guidance mean and what’s next?
  • How Copper can support


Contact us for further information.

We recently collaborated on the  ‘Breaking through the barriers’ report as part of RSK’s Power On campaign, where industry experts provide their insights to uncover key opportunities in energy development. Breaking through the barriers looks at all the issue that energy developers are facing within their projects.

Working alongside EDF Renewables UK & Ireland, Scottish Renewables, Orrön Energy, Anglo Renewables Ltd, Ecowende, Vattenfall, RSK Wilding, Certus Utility Consulting Ltd (An RSK Company),Proeon Systems Ltd., WRc Group and RSK Environment.


Our key takeaways include:

  • The need for a compelling story, communities will be more likely to buy into the projects, making consent easier to achieve.
  • Social views have the power to drive change, as they often garner a response from policymakers.
  • When projects become realised, vocal opposition is understandably commonplace, but the key is to set this voice in context.
  • Informed consent is achievable when armed with political alignment and the right communications tactics.


Let’s get into the detail:


Creating a voice for the people

People are at the heart of the consenting process, often determining the success or failure of a project. If we develop a voice and an approach to communication that demonstrates a longer-term commitment to relationship building and community shaping, and if we pair that with an integrated delivery plan as opposed to creating one-off experiences, the path to consent can be far smoother and more rewarding.


Educate > build support > advocate

The journey to consent is exactly that: educating key audiences, building support from stakeholders and advocating for projects. It is important to begin educating audiences through data-tested narratives and then working this into a wider campaign that drives awareness and helps define how projects are discussed and regarded. This can help build support in the minds of the decision-makers. Advocacy is driven through leveraging support and ensuring engagement activities and opportunities are provided for stakeholders to advocate the benefits of projects.


The value of being data-driven

Staying up to date on the latest insights and public narrative is one thing; understanding how to become a heard voice within the narrative is another.  By using data-led communication strategies, you can gain a better understanding of behaviours and motives driving consent decisions. Data-led strategies also enable aspects of your communications that are under-performing to be established quickly, saving critical programme time and costs for your business. Factoring performance management analytics tools into your strategies is central to delivering effective communications.


Interested in finding out more about how to work with Copper? Get in touch today. 

You can explore the live webinars hosted by RSK Group, led by industry experts here

International Women’s Day: Women working in male-dominated industries.

In the world of communications, we’ve been scoping out women who are empowering others in male-dominated industries to lead, advocate, and create change.

With the theme of International Women’s Day this year focusing on inclusion. We’ve loved discovering women in various fields who are vocal about their work through social channels, blogs, networks and organisations.

The Copper 2024 Female Power List comprised of categories including: Construction, Energy, Transport & Logistics, Pioneering Change, Out on-site and Organisations/Campaigns.

We encourage you to discover the content and hard work all the following women have been a part of:


👷🏽‍♀️ Construction

  • Kate Fahey – She is Irelands 1st female Tower Crane Operator at just 20 years old! Her content around working in the construction sector is inspiring more women to become Tower Crane Operators.


  • Kelly Cartwright – Lives by the motto of ‘You Can’t Be, What you can’t see’ advocating for women in construction and inclusivity. Check out her latest PPE awards attire!


  • Amy Underwood – Amy is plant operator in Scotland, she is part of the ultimate dad and daughter duo. She is a role model to women wanting to work on construction sites, and she doesn’t hesitate to clap back at any sexist remarks.


  • Carol Massay – Carol’s mission is to continue to promote the construction sector as a great place to expand your career and provide world-class technology to attract skills from other walks of life to the sector.


  • Sinead Clarkson – Not only a Chartered Quanity Surveyor, an ambassador for empowering women into roles and co-chair of National Association of Women in Construction (NAWIC) Yorkshire Region


⚡ Energy

  • Catryn Newton – As Community Investment Director of Bute Energy , Catryn works with communities throughout Wales utilising our capacity for renewable energy generation and she is passionate about social value in her field.


  • Leonie Dubois – In her role of Head of Engagement Land and Consents at Thames Water, we are lucky to get the pleasure to work alongside her with project work.


  • Daniella Twelvetree – Daniella is now Head of Customer and Engagement at South West Water following a career break to relocate with her family, creating no barriers to excelling in her career.


  • Michelle Brechtelsbauer – With impressive work in the energy sector, Michelle is passionate about championing the global shift to sustainability through innovative energy strategies.


  • Carol Tansley – Talk about a successful woman, Carol lead the delivery of major programmes as diverse as operational readiness for the Arab World’s first nuclear power plant (new build, four reactors)!


🚛 Transport and Logistics

  • Charlotte Robinson – A planning manager aiming to inspire and empower Women in the Construction, Rail & Transport Industries.


  • Sonya Byers – Sonya is the Chief Executive of Women in Transport, a non-for-profit aimed at supporting women in transport.


  • Sajni Vekaria – Sajni is a Sustainability Graduate at Balfour Beatty who is passionate about empowering women in the construction industry, especially when it comes to highways!


  • Heather Enness – Master Mariner Heather Innes, provides us with content which empowers women to consider careers within the maritime industry.


  • Jacqueline Sutton – Jaqueline is the Non-Executive Director of the Women in Aviation & Aerospace Charter. Women in Aviation and Aerospace Charter aims to support, showcase, and inspire through female role models.


🙌🏼 Pioneering Change

  • Sarah Mogford – Sarah an RSK Group Board Director who is responsible for one of our UK Divisions primarily offering planning and permitting led environmental consultancy services.


  • Hannah Coogan – Set up the RSK Women’s Network in 2022 and is now Immediate Past Chair on the committee.


  • Carla Denyer – Carla is the co-leader of the Green Party as well as a Bristol City councillor.


  • Wawa Gatheru – Wanjiku “Wawa” Gatheru is a climate storyteller passionate about making the climate movement relevant and accessible to everyone.


  • Vaila Morrison – An architect with a focus on inclusive design and accessibility for all with a focus on home design and children’s playgrounds.


🦺 Out on-site

  • Sophie Maguire – Also known as The Pink Plumber, where you can find Soph document her apprentice diaries. Whether she’s chatting about the daily grind, latest products or breaking the gender bias with her TikTok trends.


  • Connie Palmer – Connie the Carpenter works to advocate women’s PPE through her brand collaborations. Her range of work for a young woman starting out in the trade is inspiring.


  • Kornelia Dziewicka – A female electrician who is unfazed by working on-site in commercial settings. Aside from her tool demos and reviews, project updates and PPE fits, be sure to check out her sidekick Bambi.


  • Sophie Perkins – A quantity surveyor and building engineer who has designed her own 13-piece women’s safety shoes collection with the brand Amblers Safety.



🏢 Organisations and campaigns

  • The House That She Built – The House That She Built is to support workforce development initiatives in home building by generating awareness of the skilled trades to underrepresented communities.


  • Empower Her in Energy – A community on a mission to empower women and encourage diversity in the energy industry.


  • The PPE Campaign – Campaigning to address the widespread inequalities in PPE provision among minority groups


  • Make Space for Girls – Make Space for Girls campaigns for facilities and public spaces for teenage girls. Parks, play equipment and public spaces for older children and teenagers are currently designed for the default male.


  • Powerful Women – Chaired by Katie Jackson, and run by the Energy Institute as project partner, POWERful Women (PfW) is working for a diverse, inclusive and gender-balanced energy industry in the UK.

Gigafactories – Have we stumbled on a consensus?

Ronan Cloud, Director of Economic Development, explores the UK’s need to catch up on gigafactories.

When the  £4bn advanced battery manufacturing plant was announced to be developed in Somerset, the overall mood from across the political spectrum was celebration.

Gigafactories – a term to describe large scale factories that develop and manufacture electrical products associated with decarbonisation (such as EV batteries) – have become a hot topic for all the political parties.

They are seen as critical to decarbonising transport and accelerating the UK’s efforts on electrification. All while supporting skills and generating home-grown innovation that drives a clean growth economy.

Labour has identified around 40 sites for eight new gigafactories across the UK, whilst the Conservatives have made it clear that the potential new plant in Somerset will be a key part of it’s own growth strategy, bring jobs and investment into the country.


Playing catch-up

There is a clear need for this enthusiasm. The UK is well behind other nations when it comes to these facilities. The US has 34 such plants, whilst Germany and France have 12 between them. The UK, so far, has only one – the Nissan plant in Sunderland.

It’s clear that the UK has to catch up, particularly as the country’s automotive industry copes with the challenges it has faced through Brexit and the knock on effects to international trade.


Opposition on the move

As there is a political consensus, it would seem obvious to think that we will be inundated with new gigafactories over the coming years, with each party (including the Liberal Democrats and Scottish National Party) all clamouring to extol the virtues of these plants.

But, we could be wrong.

There are already some opponents to the proposed Somerset plant lining up. Environmental and green space groups, working with local councillors and campaigners, are starting to mobilise, putting local politicians at odds with their national leaders.

These stakeholders could cause issues throughout the planning process if not managed or engaged with effectively.

Therefore understanding how these plants and facilities could benefit local regions, towns and cities will be vital in ensuring a smoother time during the planning process.


The power of social value

Demonstrating the social value and future legacy each facility could afford will also be key. How many jobs will the schemes create and how will this generate more wealth and further employment locally? How will environmental challenges be overcome and how will the huge scale of these plants be matched with huge power – from renewable sources?

Answering these questions will be important as we move from nationally-focused announcements to the nitty, gritty of planning decision making.

Yes, we have a national consensus on gigafactories, but what about the local scene? Unless managed effectively, we could have a very different story.

This year’s Solar and Storage Live conference is set to be the biggest yet!

The industry descends on the NEC in Birmingham for its annual showcase event from 17th-19th October.


Coming out of the recent political party conference season, Solar and Storage comes at a time when the role of communities in the planning process, net zero and utility-scale solar are all firmly on the political agenda. With a general election on the immediate horizon too, clear battle lines are starting to be drawn.

Despite rumours in a recent Observer piece threatening a resurgence in proposed restrictions to solar farms on agricultural land, the sector can breathe a cautious sigh of relief that, as of yet, there has been no real evidence of a change in policy on this from Rishi Sunak. What the Prime Minster did do however, was to use his recent party conference speech to advocate for a wider rollback of net zero commitments to 2050.

In contrast, the would-be Prime Minister in waiting, Keir Starmer, has put commitment to the development of clean energy front and centre in Labour’s vision for power. At the Labour Party conference, Shadow Secretary for Climate Change and Net Zero, Ed Miliband, also pledged to bring forward an Energy Independence Act which would implement measures for the UK electricity system to be 100% clean power by 2030, and defend the UK against shocks in the global energy market. He also announced that Labour wanted to work with businesses to increase investment, with £2.5bn committed from the public purse to help clean energy industries.

Rejecting Sunak’s recent withdrawal of green policies and investment, Starmer stressed the importance of ‘speeding up’ investment in clean energy. Shadow Minister for Industry and Decarbonisation, Sarah Jones, when speaking at a fringe event on the role the gird can play in unlocking net zero, emphasised that listening to the views of local communities will be essential for this. For utility-scale solar projects, this could also mean rewards of discounted energy bills for the communities hosting them.

Energy Minister, Graham Stuart, will be addressing the industry in person in Birmingham this week. He spoke positively about the role of solar to meet net zero when he addressed the Solar Energy UK’s summer reception earlier this year, and delegates will be wanting to hear more of the same at the NEC.

Copper’s latest report of public attitudes to solar – published earlier this year – found overwhelming support for the technology. But local uncertainty of development naturally leads to doubts during the planning process where reassurance needs to be the strongest. The industry must cut through myths and misinformation to build meaningful consensus and a societal licence for the role which solar, particularly at a utility-scale, will play in achieving UK energy security and net zero.


Copper will be attending Solar & Storage Live from 17th-19th October – You can find Copper for a chat on RSK Group’s stand N11 in Hall 5.

On day two our Director Sam Cranston and Senior Account Manager Imogen Fawcett will each be sharing their insights on community-based solar engagement and how to gain public support. If you’re attending and would like to discuss what the recent party conferences mean for solar as we head into the next general election, or how we can bring communities along with us.

The Infrastructure Podcast: Episode 31

How we can best communicate change as we plan for more infrastructure to reach net zero targets.


Martin McCrink, Managing Partner at Copper joins infrastructure journalist and commentator Anthony Oliver on The Infrastructure Podcast. The podcast hosts a series of conversations with some of the key leaders and influencers across the UK infrastructure sector.

The podcast draws on Martin’s expertise and the projects which Copper is involved in. To discuss tactics of tackling and shedding a light on not only industry specific challenges and successes. But also, the wider issues facing the sector. Listen to the episode to find out more about:

  • The challenges around communicating infrastructure
  • Engaging communities where change is on the horizon
  • The speed of communications in the digital world
  • Building political support for projects
  • The challenges consultation presents
  • Redefining community based on data

Some key examples discussed in the podcast include HS2 project, London’s Ultra Low Emission Zone scheme and the latest debate over planning after the government vowed to give local communities choice and the power to veto projects they don’t like.


Interested in finding out more?

Delve into the latest thinking at Copper, or get in touch to discover opportunities to work with Copper.

Also, if you have a suggestion of someone who would make an interesting guest on The Infrastructure Podcast, get in touch with Anthony today. 


Reflections on a year with RSK: Strategy, culture, instinct and empathy make strong partnerships

There are fewer more important decisions to make at work than choosing to partner with another organisation to help take a business to the next phase of its life. Our partnership with RSK has proven to be the right one for Copper. Its worked culturally, strategically and created exciting opportunities.

Its a year since Copper joined RSK Group and Martin McCrink, Managing Partner, reflects on the first 12 months and what we have learned.


What we saw is what we got

When we first met RSK to talk about partnering, we had an instinctive positive gut feeling which was continually backed up by the decent, smart and entrepreneurial people we met. And that feeling has not gone away. We continually looked for clues and RSK did not disappoint.

Alan Ryder’s interview in the FT in January 2023 captures the sentiment and approach behind the business and what you read here rings true internally.

Every commitment and opportunity we discussed in those early meetings has been delivered or is underway. Firstly, Copper’s strategy, culture and identity has only been supported and enhanced by RSK – critical for a people led business. RSK’s approach has been to understand what makes Copper successful and help us build on it.

Secondly, RSK’s strategic idea for Copper matched our own business plan and that commitment remains. We’ve been able to break into new sectors, geographies and accelerated the service offering our clients demand. On our own, this pace of positive change would have been slower, more challenging and involved greater risk.

One example is our newly formed team in Copper. Copper’s pre acquisition brand and creative team has merged with RSK’s creative team to form a new Content & Creative practice at Copper – an expert team of copywriters, editors, branding specialists, designers, animators. This team has its own clients and improves the offer to all Copper clients to help our sector tell a better story to inform, engage and influence audiences.

Copper makes strategic sense for RSK Group too. Bringing communications strategy, stakeholder engagement and consultation expertise into RSK strengthens the group’s best in class in house team. RSK’s approach of bringing together successful businesses creates a client demand orientated offer to the market, a compelling pitch for talent and a thriving culture based on improvement, progress and support.


Net zero won’t happen on its own, we need take people with us

RSK’s breadth stretches across continents, languages, cultures and sectors including energy, transport, sport, economic development and food & drink. One common thread is the commitment to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the net zero transition. We’ve seen from the recent political reaction in the UK about the reality of what the net zero transition means. Ultra low emissions zones dominated a by-election, new renewable projects require changes to the landscape and people will be increasingly be asked to change their habits and behaviours.

Just because reducing emissions needs to happen to safeguard a liveable planet does not mean it will. Nor does it mean it is easy. Without buy in, the transition becomes riskier for clients to deliver. Copper purpose is to change the political, social, media and public context to address this challenge. Being part of RSK means we can take on the most interesting challenges with the support of a Group with heritage and expertise in climate science, energy generation, consenting, water consumption and carbon management, to name just a few specialisms.


An open door for talent and a platform for opportunity

Since joining RSK, we’ve created opportunities to progress people’s careers by making the most of being part of the group. We’ve been able to unlock careers for people and retain talent within RSK Group.

Around 12 months ago, opportunities to work in different specialisms or geographies including the Europe, Middle East, Australia, Africa and South America would not have been serious or tangible. Today, they are part of every day conversation and career planning.


What have we learned?

Hindsight is a wonderful thing, but pre mortems are useful to share.


1. Instinct:

Gut instinct is usually right when making partnership decisions, but do not underestimate the intellectual and emotional commitment required to make it a success.

2. Decency:

Working with decent people is critical. There is no manual for how to make an acquisition work as they are all bespoke, but honesty and trust is essential – all of which requires smart, empathetic people.

3. Strategy:

Alignment on strategy has made working with RSK straight forward. Clarity, understanding and agreement reduces day to day wasted time and long term issues. We contribute to RSK where the entire Group is greater than the sum of the parts.

4. Culture:

RSK’s respect for Copper’s culture and vice versa has meant that the two organisations have seamlessly got the best out of each other. A clash of cultures would have been time consuming and distracting.

5. Mutuality:

We’ve been able to add a new dimension to RSK and RSK has helped Copper expand our horizons. This creates a partnership ethos. Without this, the relationship would feel one-sided and Copper would have felt like a guest, not a housemate. Our approach at Copper has, and always will be, to throw ourselves into scenarios and maximise their potential and by doing so we’re able to get the most support from a global, expert partner.

Leveraging legal experience in the world of communications

As a recent law graduate, you may be wondering how I ended up in the world of communications. More specifically… why infrastructure?

A totally intentional opportunity as actually, a lot of the planning process is governed by statutory requirements. In fact, throughout projects this is something that Copper must work around. Being able to witness projects going from pre-application stages to approval, allows me to apply the purpose behind planning law. Copper combines two of my interests, the law and sustainability, which is why I found Copper such a perfect fit.  


Sustainable impact outside the world of STEM 

Copper’s focus on renewable energy is an element that attracted me to the role. Previously, I was led to believe that without a background in STEM, roles that have an impact on sustainability would be limited. However, Copper has happily disproven my initial opinion. A lot of Copper’s work focuses on communicating the importance of green projects to key stakeholders, which is something I am passionate about. For example, working on solar farm projects which when complete, could deliver up to 50 MegaWatts of clean green energy. This all feeds into the wider picture, to contribute to the net zero promises the government has to deliver by 2050. It’s incredibly rewarding to be a tiny piece of the bigger picture.  


My journey into Copper 

How did I get to Copper? Securing my internship via the Taylor Bennett Foundation (TBF), an organisation that promotes better diversity in the PR industry as a whole. 91% of people in the profession classify themselves as white, meaning people of colour are seriously underrepresented in public relations, but with Copper the were no barriers to entry and the interview process amplified that. 

The entire application process was well communicate. Granted my interview in fact felt like a conversation. This style of interview put me at a lot more at ease. With the application process making me more comfortable, allowing me to feel valued as an individual and not ‘just a number’ or ‘just another intern’.  

My advice to anyone else applying to Copper for an internship is to vocalise your interests. Making your interests known to your team will allow them to support you in doing work that suits. I have been able to work across practices including Infrastructure and Strategic Communications, learning more from being given the opportunity to do so. Hopefully future interns will be able to gain just as much as I have from my internship! 


Copper’s company culture 

Copper’s involvement with TBF has translates well into the culture at Copper. Notably all team members have been inclusive, willing to introduce me to new projects and no question has felt too silly to ask. Allowing me to experience a seamless transition into the company, without ever feeling like an outsider.   

In fact, now that I have been here for over a month, I am learning that my team come from a diverse range of backgrounds. For example, my colleague Hannah worked at Disney in the theme parks and later, in a digital marketing role for Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines before entering the world of corporate communications. Knowing that everyone has a variety of experiences before settling into their career makes me feel at ease, to think that everyone was once in my position.  

Overall my experience at Copper has been welcoming, exciting and intellectually stimulating. I am excited for all the new projects I’ll get to work on for the remainder of my internship at Copper! 


Interested in finding out more about Copper employee experiences? You can find out about Dylan’s intern experience here. 

Copper strengthens infrastructure offer with senior hire

Copper Consultancy, the specialist infrastructure agency, has appointed Lisa Childs to front the firm’s plans to deepen its Welsh presence. Lisa brings a unique outlook with varied experience and a values-led approach to both her leadership and her delivery.

Joining from the National Union of Students (NUS) and previously Heathrow Airport. Lisa has significant experience in public affairs and stakeholder relations.

As Director of NUS Wales, and UK-wide public affairs lead for the union, Lisa has shaped and developed policy in partnership with Welsh Government Ministers. She has also influenced opinion and built coalitions of support with both Members of the Senedd in Cardiff Bay and Members of Parliament in Westminster.

Lisa brings major project experience and a client-side perspective to the growing consultancy. Having led public affairs and stakeholder relations across the UK for the Heathrow Expansion programme, Lisa developed a wealth of experience in strategic, political and crisis communication. She was also Silver Commander for operational airport crisis scenarios, such as drone attacks and weather events.


Director of Energy Infrastructure, Sam Cranston, said:

“Through this blend of experience, Lisa will provide real value and insight at both a strategic and delivery level. Lisa will advise our clients on how best to mitigate stakeholder and political risk, understanding the local context. We’re also excited by Lisa’s leadership experience and know that she will be a valuable asset to internal culture here at Copper.”


Commenting on her appointment, Lisa said:

“It’s an incredibly exciting time for infrastructure, decarbonisation, and energy projects in Wales. We are seeing a confident Welsh Government drive forward an ambitious programme for change, unafraid to make big decisions. I’m looking forward to expanding on Copper’s proven track record on delivery for Welsh projects.

“Copper is a specialist agency with a long-standing commitment to and record of success in supporting clients in delivering decarbonisation initiatives. With ambitious growth plans, significant investment in the team, and the backing of the RSK Group, I am excited to add my skills and experience to the mix.”