The UK has been at the forefront of the offshore wind industry over the last decade. With more than 10 GW of installed offshore wind capacity today, the UK has established itself as a world leader, a journey which has seen capacity significantly increase from less than just 1.5 GW in 2010. The rapid growth of the UK offshore wind sector can be attributed to several factors, including government support, technological advancements, and the falling cost of this renewable energy. Copper Consultancy looks back at the accelerated development of this crucial energy source, and looks ahead to what the future holds for the sector.

In 2011, the Government made it clear in its UK Renewable Energy Roadmap that significant reductions in the cost of electricity from offshore wind was required to encourage development in the technology. Offshore wind energy was recognised as a crucial part of the government’s commitment to decarbonising the economy, and that innovation was necessary to achieve cost reduction on a large scale, to enable a more competitive source of renewable energy.

The Offshore Wind Cost Reduction Task Force was established in 2011 to produce an action plan for cost reduction, and in 2012 The Crown Estate published an industry report covering the same topic. Combined, these set the path for industry and government collaboration for the next decade which has led to the cost of energy from offshore wind dropping below even the best-case industry predictions at the time. When the Climate Change Act was passed in 2008, UK offshore wind projects were producing energy at roughly £170 per megawatt hour. Fast forward to present day, and this figure now stands well under £50 per megawatt hour, signifying a monumental shift and a journey which has helped encourage mass development.

During the last decade, the Contracts for Difference (CfD) scheme was also set up by government to support low-carbon electricity generation thus incentivising investment in renewables. By ensuring developers receive a fixed, pre-agreed price for the low carbon energy produced, CfD provided financial assurance to developers which would incur substantial upfront costs and long project lifecycles before seeing a return on investment. For offshore wind, across the four CfD Allocation Rounds since the first in 2015, contracts have been awarded for 16 projects with a combined capacity of over 16 GW. This includes Orsted’s Hornsea Three in the latest round which is set to become the world’s biggest offshore wind farm.

While CfD is providing assurances to developers for projects that will become operational in the future, over the past decade a number of offshore wind projects pre-CfD have started generating electricity and adding tangible contributions to the UK’s low-carbon economy. Projects including Hornsea One (1.2 GW) and Walney Extension (0.7 GW) have been some of the first wind farms to navigate the development consent regime for Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects (NSIPs), and have lived the project lifecycle from pre-application, through to construction and operation.

They have had to deal with the difficulties of traversing a new planning regime, including the requirements for developing detailed environmental information and delivering robust consultations to explain the impacts of these projects to stakeholders and communities. These projects helped pave the way and provided confidence to the industry that projects can successfully be delivered from start to finish under this regime. In total, 11 offshore wind farms have been consented through the development consent regime, three are in construction and eight are operational, with more currently in the pre-application stages.

Offshore wind has flourished, and this was more recently evidenced through Vattenfall securing the National Infrastructure Planning Association’s award for Best Project, for both its Norfolk Vanguard and Norfolk Boreas offshore wind farms, which demonstrates how offshore wind projects have excelled and delivered best practice while tackling challenges around protecting the environment and delivering consultation and stakeholder engagement at scale.

Looking to the future, offshore wind is expected to play an increasing role in the UK’s energy mix. In 2019, the government passed legislation committing the UK to a ‘net-zero’ greenhouse gas emissions target by 2050, and at the same time the government and the Offshore Wind Industry Council signed a Sector Deal for offshore wind in the UK which included a target of 30 GW of installed capacity by 2030. This was increased to 40 GW in the Ten Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution, which is nearly quadruple the installed capacity today, demonstrating the political backing and ambitions for the sector. In the 2022 British Energy Security Strategy the target was further increased to 50 GW of offshore wind by 2030.

Technological advancements will be a key factor in achieving this milestone. We have already seen the size of the turbines increase, advances in technology to allow offshore wind farms to be built in deeper waters, the development of floating offshore wind, advances in cable technology, and more. Innovation is expected to continue, further reducing the offshore wind costs and facilitating even more, and larger projects to come forward.

However, this is not without its challenges. While the Crown Estate leases its offshore sites to developers all around the UK’s borders, there are only a limited number of onshore connection points where the electricity generated can be distributed to homes and businesses. With the UK’s grid capacity feeling the strain, offshore wind farms are often co-locating within the same local authority boundaries and being required to connect to the same onshore substations. Increasing the number of projects will exacerbate this, and significant upgrades will be required to the onshore transmission network over the coming years in order to meet the demands of not only offshore wind, but renewable energy generation in general. An independent report of the UK’s Offshore Wind Champion, released in March 2023, made recommendations and identified opportunities for government and industry to accelerate the deployment of offshore wind projects in the UK, and one of the key messages was to stress the urgent need to upgrade the national grid, as grid connections are increasingly becoming the rate-limiting factor for UK offshore wind deployment.

As more offshore wind projects come forward, the cumulative impacts are also likely to increase and the industry will face further challenges surrounding impacts to the environment, consultation fatigue and increased opposition from communities as a result. Stakeholder groups are already lobbying for an offshore transmission network review to help reduce the impacts onshore across multiple projects, and increased opposition during the consenting process could slow down project development and jeopardise the 50 GW by 2030 target.

It is more important than ever for developers to clearly explain their projects using accessible and engaging methods to build understanding and support among communities, and to continue developing projects within the policy framework set by the government. Collaboration will also be important to build understanding across projects and manage any potential cumulative impacts, especially during the construction phase.

Another key dependency for the development of offshore wind over the coming years is the capability of the supply chain. Having enough skilled workers available to construct multiple projects that move into the construction phase at a similar time will be a key challenge, and industry collaboration will be fundamental to managing this.

The offshore wind industry has already proven it can work together to innovate, through organisations such as The Carbon Trust’s research, deployment and development programme, the Offshore Wind Accelerator, and to collaborate, such as through the EastWind Offshore Cluster, which is set up to drive the implementation of the Offshore Wind Sector Deal (OWSD). Investment in local skills and employment will be critical to achieving the industry commitment set out in the OWSD of 60% local content by 2030.

Despite the challenges there is plenty to be optimistic about. Over the last decade the UK’s offshore wind sector has seen a period of rapid growth and development, making significant progress in reducing costs, increasing capacity, and driving technological innovation. Looking ahead, the fifth CfD Allocation Round, and both the Celtic Sea floating offshore wind and ScotWind 2 leasing rounds signify the next key milestones for the industry. The sector is poised for continued growth and success in transitioning the UK to a low-carbon economy.

For more information or to talk to us about Copper’s work in the offshore wind sector, please contact Sam Cranston at



On 10-11 May, Copper joined colleagues from across the RSK Group for the annual All-Energy conference in Glasgow.

On the first day of the conference, Copper’s Director of Energy Infrastructure Sam Cranston led a session exploring whether the next UK general election will be won or lost on climate change.

The session shared findings from our latest public attitudes report exploring this question and what the energy industry can learn from voters’ intentions.

The main takeaways were:

  • Today’s issues matter most – Voters are focused on what they are feeling and seeing now – less money in their pockets, higher bills and costs, a growing NHS waiting list, strikes and the concerns around immigration, which voters feel is stretching already struggling public services.
  • The next election will not be won on climate change, but it could swing voters – Do not expect climate and environmental policies or pledges to feature front and centre at the next election – these messages will not deliver the same cut through as those focused on economic stability and measures to control inflation.
  • Climate change is important to people – Although political parties might strategically focus their messaging on the top issues in the electorate’s minds, this does not mean the sector should turn quiet on the climate emergency. The world continues to warm and the major political parties continue to double down on ever more ambitious climate targets that they need the sector to deliver.
  • Different audiences require different messages – Narratives supporting low-carbon energy will no longer work if delivered in a one-size-fits-all fashion. We need to catch up with other sectors that deliver more bespoke and focused messages to voters. This, in turn, gives politicians a better opportunity to reflect voter priorities.


You can read the report, ‘Will the next general election be won or lost on climate change?’ here – All-Energy-Attitudes-report-2023.pdf (

Copper is delighted to be hosting a roundtable in partnership with the Future Water Association on Thursday 25 May, 2:00pm via Zoom. The discussion will focus on the findings of Copper’s report The Water pipeline – Readiness and reassurance: A study of public attitudes to the water sector.

We will cover the key findings of the report, and will seek input from attendees into the challenges and experiences they have had with stakeholder engagement across the water sector. We will discus some of the opportunities that can be had by engaging early and often with stakeholders, as well as the challenges that the sector will face in meeting ambitious targets set by government, regulators and the wider industry.


  • Welcome from Chair and Paul Horton, CEO of Future Water Association
  • Copper presentation on findings of the report
  • Discussion one: Experience and challenges
  • Discussion two: Opportunities and ways forward
  • Next steps and close

To RSVP, please email or register here. The webinar link will be provided in joining instructions a few days before the event.

You can find the link to our report here.


Chancellor Jeremy Hunt’s Spring Budget includes a range of measures intended to stimulate economic growth and deliver stability, under four
pillars: Enterprise, Employment, Education and Everywhere. For the energy and infrastructure industry, key takeaways include a recommitment
to Levelling Up, nearly a billion in funding for investment zones in England and a significant boost of £20 billion pledged for carbon capture.

We spoke to Lara Young, Group Climate Change Director at Costain and Chair of the Institute of Civil Engineers’ Carbon Champion Review Panel, to understand the steps the industry is taking to drive to Net Zero by 2050.

In our new series, The Hardest Jobs in Net Zero, we explore the oxymorons of infrastructure – those roles that, on the surface, seem to be anything but sustainable.

The global built environment is responsible for 40% of carbon emissions and 50% of extracted materials. If the UK is to meet its target of reaching net zero by 2050, it is critical that construction is decarbonised.

“No organisation can achieve net zero on its own”, begins Lara. “A huge part of Costain’s focus is ensuring that we lead by example and enable others to achieve their targets. Realistically, it is only when other organisations achieve their targets that we can achieve ours – which means collaborating across industry is paramount.”

 Walking the talk

After years of growing awareness of the need to accelerate decarbonisation, for Lara, the time for delivery is now.

“It is now sink or swim. We either take action or we will cease to exist. We have to follow through on that initial enthusiasm with action, doing what we said we were going to do. This is true for every organisation.

“Awareness of the topic has grown since 2018/19. The build up to COP26 saw a huge amount of pressure to enshrine commitments. COP26 was a good accelerator for organisations adopting targets, though it is now imperative that they are delivered upon.”

 Cutting through the noise

While there is ambition to deliver credible change across infrastructure, Lara admits that there is confusion about what meaningful change looks like.

“The sheer amount of confusion and intangibility around the topic is one of the challenges we face. The difficulty is in cutting through the noise around net zero and understanding what it actually means in real life.

“However, there is a huge amount of ambition now, which is brilliant. There is a genuine willingness to do the right thing and engagement with the topic. But not necessarily the maturity to understand exactly what is needed to be done.”

 Risk taking and innovation

Technological innovation is a key component of the drive to decarbonise work practices in construction. Lara believes it is crucial that those new technologies are applied in the right way once they have passed the theoretical design period.

“The industry is really great at trialling and testing new technologies, however we struggle to industrialise that innovation once it moves past the point of being tested and trialled. I think governance and policy could help make that happen more quickly and at scale.

“However, having the right technology is not the be all and end all, it needs to be used to drive tangible change. Using technology and innovation in the most effective manner to achieve the outcomes we need is key to achieving net zero.”

 Moment of clarity

There is much to be hopeful for on the horizon. From her experience with clients, Lara believes that the industry is fast approaching a moment of realisation, in acknowledging that no-one has all the answers.

“We do need to become comfortable in admitting that we only know part of the solution. There is this balance between wanting to do the right thing, but also trying to respond to pressure to equate scale with success. It is often these grandiose projects and pledges that may be harming the route to delivering credible and meaningful change.

“My role seeks to ensure that we can cut through the noise to ensure we do not get distracted with ‘nice to do’ projects, which may be great project but not the most relevant at this point in time. I think the priority for most projects is that while there is a genuine desire for change, there is uncertainty about what is needed and how best to go about this.”

Leading by example

It is clear that a collaborative effort is needed to deliver net zero in construction. Not simply by promoting best practice but leading that change and acting on commitments.

“If we are expecting others to do the same, we have to lead by example. We are more mature than many and we can support our supply chain on the journey to net zero. There are also niche areas where other partners will be more informed than us and we can learn from their experience.

“By 2023, we will provide a low carbon option on every project as a standard.  Over time, this will ensure we are driving behaviour change with our customers and flagging opportunities to make an impact.”

Clear communication

Simplicity and clarity are the watchwords for any organisation approaching messaging on sustainability goals. Ensuring any claims are backed up by credible, deliverable results is critical, as Lara explains.

“We should all be striving to keep our language accessible to everyone, ensuring everyone understands the role they will play in helping their organisation to achieve net zero.

Organisations should be celebrating success and demonstrating the progress they are making in delivering their decarbonisation commitments.”

Construction has demonstrated the innovative streak to trial radical technologies required to decarbonise. It is critical to match this with the will to implement those technologies to bring about the required revolution.

More than this, the innovative fervour must be accompanied by a readiness to admit where gaps in knowledge are and a zeal to build on them, to construct a clear path to decarbonisation.

Find out more about Lara and the team’s efforts to achieve net zero here.

And stay tuned to Copper’s channels for more articles in our search for The Hardest Jobs in Net Zero.

Just a couple of months have passed since Kwasi Kwarteng delivered the now infamous mini budget and Jeremy Hunt’s Autumn Statement signalled a radical departure from that short-lived ideology.

The logistics sector is the backbone of the UK economy. It accounts for £55bn of the UK GDP, 1.7m jobs, and underpins how we function day-to-day, both in business and our everyday lives. But what does the public think about the sector and how do communities respond to large-scale logistics hubs?

Changes in shopping patterns alone have accelerated the growth of the logistics industry. COVID-19 shifted the onus onto online shopping, with more and more people abandoning district centre shopping in favour of ordering from their laptop or smartphone.

The likes of Amazon and other online retailers were the main beneficiaries, whilst supermarkets also adapted. In total, online sales grew by over 20% during the period of lockdowns between 2020 and 2021.


53 football pitches

To accommodate the growth in demand, more and more land is required for warehousing and logistics hubs. In fact, the equivalent of 53 football pitches is required across Europe to fulfil demand in the next few years.

However, it’s clear that our planning legislation has been slow to catch up. Local Plans are still very residential focused, with employment (or commercial) land sometimes counted as an after-thought when local authorities draw up their development frameworks. As well as this, public attitudes towards logistics development does not always align with the growth in demand.


Economic gains drive support

To help understand the challenges facing the sector and also to provide insight on how best to work with communities in developing logistics proposals, Copper commissioned detailed research into how the logistics development is perceived by people across the UK.

Our findings have uncovered some interesting considerations and with it helped us in providing some key recommendations:

  • There is broad degree of understanding that the development of employment land is necessary:
    • 67% would support the development of logistics centres because of the employment opportunities they would bring
    • 61% cited economic growth as a reason for support
  • There is a degree of misunderstanding about how the logistics sector functioned, meaning educating communities on what logistics is and how it functions is required.


Changing perceptions

To assist with tackling these issues, we have developed four key recommendations for the sector based on the research we commissioned:

  1. More collaboration with local authorities is required to develop shared goals and objectives
  2. People are largely supportive of the economic importance of the logistics sector and therefore should be front and centre of any proposals
  3. There is a degree of misunderstanding about the sector, therefore an education programme on its importance and way it works is required
  4. Early engagement is key. Working with communities in developing proposals and schemes will minimise challenge and problems.

Now, these steps are not a magic bullet for all logistics development. However, we are introducing these thoughts as part of a conversation to build stronger collaboration between the sector, communities and local authorities. It’s clear that demand for logistics development is growing, but without the necessary land or planning approvals the sector will stall.

It’s clear that there is a huge amount of opportunity for the logistics sector to work with communities and local authorities to meet the growing demand for logistics development. However, engagement and positioning is key to ensure proposals are welcomed.


To find out more about our research and findings visit Logistics-Report.pdf (

Logistics makes up the backbone of the UK economy. Without the organised transport of goods, equipment, and produce, our way of living would be simply impossible.

In our latest insight report, Copper looks at the impact of major infrastructure projects through the eyes of the communities they serve – assessing past actions, understanding today’s experiences and identifying what could be improved for future projects.

You can read the report here: The infrastructure lifecycle from the perspective of communities.