Viking Link is a planned 1400-MW interconnector between the UK and Denmark. It comprises over 760km of underground subsea cables between converter stations at Bicker Fen in the UK and Revsing in Denmark. The onshore cables run 68km from the Lincolnshire coast to the inland converter station.
Alongside National Grid and a multidisciplinary project team, Copper was brought on board to lead the communications and consultation activity across three consultation phases for this sensitive project.
This project was politically sensitive and politically charged, spanning multiple local authorities and Westminster constituency boundaries. As a result, communications needed to be meticulously planned to avoid additional conflict and secure political acceptance.
Linked to this was public opposition to EU-backed projects resulting from the timing of the pre-application phase, which coincided with the Brexit referendum, and a high proportion of Leave voters in Lincolnshire.
Given the project sensitivities, it called for an engagement and community-led approach. Central to this was developing a compelling need and benefits narrative to help stakeholders and the public understand what the project means for their community.
The geographical spread of the development required a wide-reaching consultation strategy to ensure all corners of the communities along the route could share their views. Alongside this, we focused on bringing political stakeholders into the conversation through a robust political engagement strategy.
Such a large, linear utility project spanning five local authority areas necessitated a collaborative project team approach to consultation and engagement.
Alongside crafting an audience-focused narrative to bring the project to life for local people, we created a straightforward narrative to articulate the complex route and siting process ahead of the route options consultation. This helpef built project understanding and emphasised its positive contribution to the local community in a way that was accessible to a broad audience.
With equal emphasis on engaging political stakeholders, in conjunction with the project team and National Grid, we developed a political engagement campaign that kept MPs and councillors fully briefed on the project, focusing on the scheme’s advantages for the local area.
We also delivered a communications and stakeholder ‘drumbeat’ outside of key consultation milestones, which was vital to maintaining momentum and building acceptance and advocacy for the project. This included regular political briefings spanning site visits and presentations at full council meetings and hosting our own events.
The multi-pronged, collaborative approach resulted in high levels of participation from residents, landowners, parish councils, elected members and community and stakeholder groups. More than 1,000 local residents and stakeholders participated in the consultation, providing 600 pieces of meaningful feedback to help shape and guide the project.
Viking Link is currently under construction and expected to be operational in 2023.