As we begin to see more scrutiny over the public purse in post-Covid Britain, we may see a proportion of funding diverted away from large, strategic transport projects.

We need a step-change in our relationships with privately owned cars if we are to reach our net zero targets.

Read the report here.

The very words ‘airspace change consultation’ present a complicated and technical picture that will seem somewhat irrelevant for many people.

With the forthcoming airspace change coming for many airports around the UK, we’re giving our key considerations, challenges and top tips to cut through the noise and make consultations as straight-forward and useful as possible.

 

Key considerations

Airspace change consultations are a requirement. This immediately puts engagement in risk of being run haphazardly, or as a tick-box exercise or afterthought with little thought about the audience.

The first, and most important consideration, is that a consultation is an opportunity to build relationships with your local stakeholders.

Instead of viewing this as a task, flip the script and get excited about creating new touchpoints, new collateral and vocalise the positive work you’re doing.

Consultation events present a fantastic opportunity for you to learn what people like and dislike, what matters most to the community and ultimately, to hear what they want. This point of contact doesn’t come around too often, so use it to reflect, review and revive your communications.

 

Challenges

Airspace change is confusing.

There is an abundance of technicalities that affect the operational delivery of an airport. But in reality, this will not impact your consultation attendees.

People want to know how this will affect their day-to-day life. Questions like:

          Will it be noisy over my child’s nap time?

          Will I see that plane from my favourite garden seat?

          Will I notice the difference on weekends?

We must not forget that airspace changes do affect people’s lives and it can have an impact on their everyday routines.

With that said, consultation gives you the chance to directly address these concerns. Getting people on the ground in the local communities to openly discuss, manage expectations and level concerns will go a long way to help relationships with your stakeholders. Through open dialogue and acknowledging the challenges, you can clearly set out the steps you’re taking that will mitigate adverse impacts.

 

Top tips for consultation:

  1. Technology is your friend: When it comes to something as technical as airspace change, if there is a way to present information in an engaging and exciting way, it should be worth considering. There are brilliant tools to help show changes to airspace, from interactive maps, virtual reality, and noise pollution simulations. Where possible, use it. Of course, budget dictates the art of the possible so choose where to invest.

 

  1. Visuals over written: When speaking or presenting to stakeholders on airspace change, language can sound scary.

 

  1. Plain English is key: Where possible, simplify the language to plain English and refrain from using technical jargon. When considering what ‘plain English’ looks like, a simple tip is to imagine explaining it to your family. If the information is not sensitive, you could actually ask them to read it. If they understand, great! If they don’t, more can be done to help land the messaging. If you can’t find a way of explaining in plain English, ask whether it would be better as a visual, or whether you need to include it in public-facing materials at all.

 

  1. Have people on the ground: While digital-first can streamline engagement, digital-only is a dangerous precedent to set and strips out the important relationship-building that people value and your team needs to carry out. Organising accessible and inclusive events within the local community provide opportunity for informal interaction. Through showing visual graphics, audio simulations and Q&A slots, you are opening the door to meaningful interaction with stakeholders.

 

To chat about your upcoming work and how we can help, email Sophie.Pearce@copperconsultancy.com

‘The future of urban futuring.’

This is the tagline greeting you when you visit betterstreets.ai – a simple, no-frills landing page that gets straight to the point. What founder and artist Zach Katz instead wants you to focus on is what he’s offering; a unique window into a world no longer burdened by clogged-up road networks, dangerous pedestrian footpaths and unsightly roadworks.

We held our first Active Travel Webinar in June, in which a key conversation topic was centred around ‘the battle for road space’.  From this, it was suggested by our panellists that the UK’s archaic road network was not fit for purpose to yet promote modal shift.

Moving forward with Active Travel – Copper Consultancy

 

Fans of the television show Westworld will know that Season 4 has reimagined New York City as an almost car-free city, apart from a few autonomous vehicles. The show sees characters walking through quiet pedestrianised streets dotted with plazas, green spaces and an abundance of outdoor seating; a complete juxtaposition of the New York we all know today. This high-budget, polished CGI is captivating, but what do you do when you don’t have a multi-million dollar HBO budget? And what if you want to see the same, but in Slough?

Better Streets has brilliantly highlighted the potential of our existing streets.

The AI software uses text inputs to create a unique image, transforming any traffic-laden street into a bustling pedestrian walkway, a cycle-led active travel route or a grassy tram route in seconds.

The renders aren’t perfect, but they are igniting people’s imagination and, perhaps most importantly, getting more and more people talking about the alternatives to our current travel network. As we look to further embrace multi-modal transport systems in our towns and cities, a simple and relatively cheap piece of technology such as this could be the spark needed.

Copper understands the power that visualisation can have on audiences, enabling them to engage with complex infrastructure projects and understand exactly how it may affect them. This, in turn, enables us to have honest and open conversations. We can work with you to produce animations, renders and other visual-based engagement activities to enhance your project or programme of improvements.

As Katz says: “visualising things is the most powerful way to effect change”.

 

By Pearce Branigan, Senior Account Manager.

The publication of the Government’s Jet Zero strategy marked a watershed moment for the aviation industry. The document is one of the most far-reaching and significant aviation policies published to date, adding flesh to the bones of how the industry will meet net zero by 2050.

Having supported clients to be among the 1,500 that submitted responses to the Jet Zero consultation, it was heartening to see that the UK Government had taken a bold, albeit challenging, approach. The target seeks to halve the carbon emissions produced between 2019 and 2050, with domestic flights (which comprise 4 per cent of total UK aviation emissions) being given until 2040 to achieve this. This trajectory to 2050 is based on the “high ambition” scenario, setting industry targets of:

  • 4 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent in 2030 – which is equivalent to the annual energy usage of five million UK homes.
  • 7 reduction year on year from 2030 to 2040, reaching 28.4 million tonnes or reduction of 7 million tonnes on 2030 limit by 2040.
  • 91 reduction year on year from 2040 to 2050, reaching 19.3 million tonnes or a 9.1 million tonnes reduction on 2040 limit by 2050.

The Government intends to implement this through an emission reduction trajectory for the industry, annually monitoring progress and undertaking bi-decadal reviews. The ambition should be welcomed, but serious consideration should be given to whether the targets themselves are achievable and what they depend on.

The five-year delivery plans will be assessed through six methods: system efficiencies; Sustainable Aviation Fuels (SAFs); zero emission flights; markets and removals; influencing consumers; and addressing non-carbon emissions.

Winging it?

The Government has made great claim of its proactive approach. This has included investing £180 million in research and development for SAFs, committing to having five plants under construction by 2025, along with the introduction of zero carbon aircraft.

However, these actions only account for 21 per cent of the intended carbon reductions in the industry up to 2050. Fuel efficiency improvements for airport operations, including the maintenance and refueling of planes along with the ancillary tasks associated with aviation account for a further 15 per cent of the intended carbon reductions in the industry up to 2050.

 

 

The mainstay of the strategy is dependent on existing emissions caps in the form of the UK Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) and the United Nations Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme (CORSIA), which are expected to deliver over 27 per cent of carbon reductions by 2050. The ambition is that the same (or greater) numbers of flights will occur, but improvements in technology and fuel efficiency will enable the industry not only to avoid breaching the threshold for emissions, but actually lowering them.

Although the technology is there to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050, by the strategy’s own admission it is ‘dependent on technological development proceeding at the same rate’ to achieve this. There is no certainty that the required technological innovation will continue at the same rate and if it doesn’t, the UK will have to rely on other areas to cover the shortfall in emission reductions.

As for the remaining 37 per cent, this will come from abatement outside the aviation industry, with no suggestion as to who, what or how this will be achieved.

Where the buck stops

The timing of Jet Zero’s publication occurs at a significant juncture in public opinion. The looming cost of living crisis, with fuel costs rising, has dampened appetite for environmentally inclined public spending and taxes. For some, the cost associated with achieving net zero is proving unappealing.

This brewing frustration has influenced a shift in the rhetoric of the governing party over the previous 10 months. The excitement following the UK’s hosting of COP26 in October 2021 towards achieving net zero remains, but there is now a growing difference of opinion about how to get there. For example, the Foreign Secretary and Prime Ministerial candidate Liz Truss’ proposal to temporarily cut green energy levies, which is at odds with the accepted dogma of 10 months ago to increase or even impose more.

With the medical requirements to travel abroad all but rescinded, the UK population has been returning to enjoy international travel. Households already feeling the pinch of the energy crisis may become less inclined to support the drive to net zero when their annual holiday plans are impacted. Low-income families who anticipate the two-week holiday abroad as a necessity for their own mental and physical wellbeing during the working year may be at the core of future net zero scepticism, when the levies which will drive forward net zero make their yearly holidays unaffordable. This raises the question: has the drive to decarbonise aviation focussed on winning over the aviation industry, while failing to bring the public along as well?

An innovation nation

With public expenditure likely to be reduced after the significant burden of managing the UK’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Government must consider alternative measures to financial investment to achieve Jet Zero. Whether easing the pathway to visas for specialists working in this area of research, or by agreeing trade deals with nations who have the materials needed to build these technologies, innovation will be key to unlocking the carbon reductions needed to meet net zero in aviation and the UK by 2050.

For the people, without the people?

The Government should ensure that they engage with the public across all net zero policies, so that their input is both credibly sought and applied. The inherent risk with the Government’s current approach of engaging separate industries and not the wider public, is that implementing a policy for the benefit of the UK population, without consulting the population, may cause their concerns to go unheeded. If no action is taken to register or address any outstanding concerns, then it may prove that sections of the population become indifferent, or even opponents of the very drive towards net zero.

 

Transport Committee inquiry findings

Today, the Transport Committee has released its mixed inquiry findings into the Integrated Rail Plan, the £96Bn flagship government levelling up policy which set out how Northern Powerhouse Rail and HS2 would be integrated to deliver a network of high speed lines across the Midlands and the North.

While the committee report does welcome the scale of the Government’s promised spending on improving rail in the North and the Midlands, it is also starkly headlined with a critical assessment of how some of the options and the benefits of these were assessed. The report states that,

“A thorough reassessment of the Government’s Integrated Rail Plan is essential to ensure this once-in-a-generation investment in rail is not a missed opportunity to address regional imbalances”.

 

What is the Integrated Rail Plan?

On the back of the Oakervee review and following a final submission from the National Infrastructure Commission, a new Integrated Rail Plan for the Midlands and the North was announced in November 2021. It outlines how to develop and deliver HS2, Northern Powerhouse Rail, the Midlands Rail Hub, and major Network Rail Projects.

It was presented to Parliament by Transport Secretary Grant Shapps who pledged the investment would deliver faster and better journeys to more people across the North and the Midlands.

The views of the Transport for the North (TfN) Board, as one voice for the North, fed into the Integrated Rail Plan. The evidence reflected the ambition and vision of the North for the national rail network.

This work showed the vast capacity and journey time benefits that could be realised, alongside other investment in Transport for the North’s Strategic Transport Plan, which is in the process of being refreshed.

The Sub-National Transport Body Midlands Connect also provided evidence from the Midlands region.

 

What’s next?

With such a strong cross-party call for a review by many in regional political circles and by the committee, the new Prime Minister and their departments will undoubtedly have some tough decisions to make at a time where the North is questioning some of the levelling up policies that have been rolled out.

Just yesterday, a widely circulated report by IPPR North suggested that the gap in public spending between London and the North has doubled.

This coincided with a coordinated newspaper campaign in the region warning the Conservative leadership candidates against turning their back on the North.  Eyes are also firmly on what comes next for the promised £100m study to bring HS2 trains to Leeds, with the West Yorkshire Mayor Tracy Brabin describing it as being “left in limbo”.

However, while some wider regional connectivity has been scaled back, there have also been very welcome commitments to the TransPennine Route Upgrade, with spending trebled to £9bn to deliver more comprehensive East – West electrification between Manchester and York.

Despite the large investments needed to replace our Victorian infrastructure, it is clear that there is still huge support for rail spending in turbulent times.

With both Conservative leadership candidates pledging commitments to spur on new economic growth and with the ongoing need to tackle climate change, the North’s and Midlands’ rail plans could be a good place to start.

If you want to talk to us about how we can help with your infrastructure communications, then please get in contact with James Jordan.

 

 

Challenge

Cardiff Hendre Lakes is a proposed new business district at the heart of the Cardiff Capital Region. Served by Cardiff Parkway railway station, the development has the potential to support around 6,000 jobs and become a transport hub opening up access to employment opportunities across the region. Alongside leading communications, engagement and consultation for the project to support it through planning, we were asked to create a brand that captures a strong sense of place and bring the whole project to life.

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Insight

The project’s goal is to become a catalyst for growth, contributing to the regeneration of East Cardiff and the wider Cardiff Capital Region by attracting high-quality businesses and investment. The development, which is located to the south of St Mellons Business Park, aims to deliver jobs and investment to the local area while helping people to connect with a unique landscape. All communications needed to be available in Welsh and English.

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Strategy

As the site is within a Site of Special Scientific Interest and part of the historically significant Gwent Levels, our aim was to build a relationship with the local community early, to explain the project’s potential benefits and incorporate local knowledge and feedback. This would lay strong foundations for the subsequent pre-application consultation. The design and branding of communications needed to be welcoming and reassuring, as well as flexible enough to work in a bilingual context.

Amplify

We ran a series of branding discovery workshops to create a brand and logo in a colour palette of tonal blues and greens inspired by the natural landscape. To ensure accessibility and inclusion, we chose a simple sans serif font that would work well for Welsh and English printed materials such as a series of booklets, newsletters and feedback forms to support the consultation process. A multi-language website allowed people to access this information in a digital format. Exhibition banners, posters and signage all supported face-to-face consultation events.

Outcome

The brand and materials have been well received by stakeholders and the community alike. Members of the public complimented the accessibility of materials during events surrounding the consultation.

Challenge

The West Midlands Interchange (WMI) is a Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project (NSIP) located in South Staffordshire. The new Strategic Rail Freight Interchange will sit adjacent to the West Coast Mainline and span 300 hectares. Copper was tasked with delivering consultation and engagement services to support the Development Consent Order (DCO), as well as communications and support building.

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Insight

It has been long-established that a Strategic Rail Freight Interchange in the area was essential to address the shortage of logistics capacity in the West Midlands. However, with the development planned on Green Belt land, there were significant concerns about its impact on wildlife, the landscape and daily lives. As a result, it faced fierce opposition. Misinformation around the scheme compounded the problem.

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Strategy

Our strategy was to develop a national and regional advocacy programme and proactive media campaign to manage misinformation and build understanding around the need and benefits of the project to minimise risk of objection. The approach centred on telling the story of West Midlands Interchange in ways that related to local residents and stakeholders, bringing its benefits to life for the area.

Amplify

By creating a business story emphasising the need and benefits of new rail freight capacity in the West Midlands, we helped the public and stakeholders understand the major economic benefit to the area. The scheme is set to create more than 8,500 jobs and attract significant industry as well as reduce traffic across the region’s roads and introduce new parkland in the vicinity, all of which was little understood.

We also established and delivered a contact centre to ensure the public felt heard and could get answers to their questions quickly. Not only did it manage concerns that otherwise might have escalated into issues, but it also helped strengthen the project’s reputation and pave the way for acceptance.

Re-enforcing the positive impact across the region also supported the project funder’s reputation, positioning it as playing a key role in levelling up in the UK by investing in infrastructure in the Midlands.

Outcome

By developing and delivering a transparent two-stage consultation process, including compliant statutory consultation, we helped ensure West Midlands Interchange was accepted for examination by the Planning Inspectorate. Local authorities complimented the consultation delivery, and the consultation report was well appraised during the examination period.

WMI was granted development consent in May 2020 and we continue to work with the project as it enters construction.

Challenge

The West of England’s mass transit project aims to transform the way people move around the region, dramatically improving congestion and air quality while reducing carbon emissions.

It represents a once-in-a-generation opportunity to revolutionise travel in the region by providing a high-capacity public transport network with fast, frequent and reliable services that will be developed and delivered over several years.

Copper was brought on board to support West of England Combined Authorities with early stakeholder engagement to better understand the needs of local people, providing evidence of a strong Strategic Outline Business Case.

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Insight

A history of false starts for major infrastructure in the region meant some stakeholders were sceptical about the likely success of new projects. This was compounded by the project being in extremely early stages, with the concept of mass transit ill-defined. The

There was an added layer of complexity with the project spanning several councils all with distinctive demographics, geography, and politics. The region needed to ‘speak with one voice’ in its support for the project given the competitive nature of central government funding.

To add further challenge, Covid-19 restrictions ruled out face-to-face events meaning all engagement activity had to take place online, with the risk that some community stakeholders might be excluded.

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Strategy

Our approach hinged around early, transparent engagement on the objectives of the mass transport project to establish its purpose and solidify the concept in the minds of stakeholders. In doing so, we aimed to build understanding and trust around the project.

Amplify

We began engaging stakeholder groups early while scheme options were still in development to understand their priorities for a mass transit system.

The first stage saw us run a series of internal workshops with partner unitary authorities to explore the vision and values of mass transit. We crafted a clear narrative that all partner organisations could sign up to and use in their communications, enabling us to establish a single voice and alignment around views.

We supported live briefings and three webinars with a wide range of stakeholders from MPs to grass-root community groups. In addition, we were careful to select interactive engagement tools to bring new voices into the conversation and enable input and feedback representative of the locality.

Outcome

By consulting early, we laid strong foundations for future engagement based on mutual trust and respect. Starting a dialogue with stakeholders warmed them up for consultation. It helped us secure meaningful, representative, qualitative and quantitative feedback that reflected the needs of communities and stakeholders and influenced the development of a Strategic Outline Business Case.

Challenge

Transport East is the sub-national transport body for the East of England. The partnership was developing its first transport strategy, and Copper was appointed to support early stakeholder engagement. Our role was to ensure the Transport East team effectively engaged with stakeholders and the public to create a strategy representative of the needs and ambitions of communities in the region.

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Insight

A sub-national transport body in the area had been mooted for many years, yet it had never materialised. As a result, aligning political and wider stakeholders with opposing views on infrastructure investment and decarbonisation had the potential to be challenging.

In addition, while adult residents were an important target group, the Transport Strategy spans 30 years meaning young people in the area will feel its impact most. Their needs and views were vital to the project’s success.

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Strategy

Our approach was to create multiple accessible opportunities for engagement for every stakeholder group. However, COVID-19 restrictions necessitated a purely digital engagement strategy. To meet the different communication needs of each audience and ensure input from groups representative of the area, we adapted traditional engagement techniques to the digital environment.

Amplify

Digital accessibility was a priority. By selecting user-friendly, interactive engagement tools, we brought new voices into the conversation, even those hard to reach.

We also ran a series of online workshops designed to allow as many people as possible to help shape the strategy to meet the needs of the masses, facilitating online meetings with 100+ stakeholders.

With an equal focus on securing input from future users of the region’s transport network, we designed and delivered a targeted campaign for young people aged 11-13 in preparation for future engagement during consultation.

Ensuring the Transport East partnership stayed updated and supportive of plans, we delivered briefings with partner authorities, the Transport East Senior Officer Group and Transport East’s annual Transport Summit.

Outcome

Utilising our knowledge of the region and large-scale projects, the Transport East team secured meaningful, representative, qualitative and quantitative feedback to influence the transport strategy and set the foundations for successful consultation.

We helped introduce Transport East to a wider group stakeholders in the region, providing a platform for its campaign in front of key figures in the industry and building brand reputation.

We laid strong foundations, setting the standard for future stakeholder engagement in the region, while earning public trust that the Transport Strategy will come to fruition.