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