As we’re just at the beginning of a new year and a new decade, it seems a good time to reflect.
In 2019 we’ve delivered some amazing consultation projects:
- Age-related Concessionary TV Licence Consultation (BBC)
- Lower Thames Crossing (Cascade)
- A47/A11 Thickthorn Junction Improvement Scheme (Sweco)
- A47 Wansford to Sutton dualling (Mott MacDonald Sweco)
- A47 Blofield to North Burlingham Dualling (Mott MacDonald Sweco)
- Celtic Interconnector Stage 4 (EirGrid)
- Sizewell nuclear power station (EDF)
- Southampton to London Pipeline (SLP)(Jacobs)
- A428 Black Cat to Caxton Gibbet improvements (Aecom)
- A12 Chelmsford to A120 Widening (Jacobs)
We reported on more than 130,000 responses. We were also able to use our knowledge and experience in a new way, working with the Heathrow Community Engagement Board to review the Heathrow Airport Expansion Consultation and allowing us to combine our consultation and evaluation skills in an exciting new way. In addition, we’ve been able to extend our work internationally, undertaking ongoing work with EirGrid, the operator of the Irish electricity grid, as well as working with the Global Tailings Review to carry out a global consultation in seven languages which aims to establish an international standard for the safer management of mine tailings storage facilities.
And looking back at the last decade, we’ve had a role in so many great and iconic projects and been able to grow and develop our skills and expertise over such a wide range of work. We’ve played a major role in HS2, delivering 13 consultations. Whilst it’s been in the news of late and facing challenges, we’re proud that we’ve been able to contribute to giving those most affected the opportunity to make their voices heard in shaping the project. Other projects that have been prominent in the headlines have been the three consultations we ran for DfT on Airspace Policy and Heathrow 3rd Runway, the consultation on the proposed Lower Thames Crossing for Highways England and the consultation we ran for the BBC on whether/ how the TV Licence concession for older people should be continued.
A major element of our consultations over the last few years has been Development Consent for Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects, and it’s been wonderful over the last few years to see some of the projects that we’ve worked on get consent, and the recognition that the consultations which we’ve worked on have been robust and demonstrated that people can have an impact in what can seem huge and confusing undertakings to those on the ground. Some of the highlights have been:
- North London Heat and Power Project (North London Waste Authority)
- Hinkley Point C Connection (EDF Energy)
- Hinckley Connection (National Grid)
- Brechta Forest Connection (Western Power Distribution)
- Richborough Connection (National Grid)
- Wylfa Newydd New Nuclear Power Station (Horizon Nuclear Power)
We’re also excited to see the outcomes of a number of other projects with which we’ve been involved which are currently at pre-application, examination and decisions stage, including: North West Coast Connections, A428 Black Cat to Caxton Gibbet, A47 Thickthorn Junction, A47 Wansford to Sutton, A47 Blofield to North Burlingham and the Southampton to London Pipeline.
As an organisation devoted to delivering social impact, it’s amazing to have been such a key part in giving a voice to people and helping them to shape projects which could affect their lives in both positive and negative ways for decades to come. Whilst there may be criticism that consultations can be ignored or simply a ‘tick box exercise’, our experience is that our clients are all dedicated to the consultation process and truly consider what is said in shaping the projects, something which is fundamental to all of our work and why we do the work we do.
In November, we attended the Consultation Institute ‘Connect 2019’ conference. We had a great opportunity to hear more about what our colleagues in the world of engagement and consultation have been doing and learn some fascinating insights into the experiences and activities of our industry colleagues. We had a fascinating and informative update on the latest case law, which is evolving at a tremendous pace, and it’s always good to be able to go to an event where we can hear from organisations that do consult, or want to consult, about what barriers they face internally and externally.
We also showcased our digital consultation platform Magpie. Whilst it’s based on the system that we have developed and used to support consultations since 1989, Magpie is a new and powerful platform that represents a step change in our offer – expect to see more and more about Magpie in 2020, as it’s a real winner!