In 2014 North London Waste Authority (NLWA) set an objective to build a £500m replacement energy recovery facility at Edmonton, Enfield to dispose of household waste in an efficient, environmentally sensitive and safe way. NLWA needed and achieved planning consent by early 2017 to comply with the North London Waste Plan.

Communications campaign objectives

  • Protect and enhance NLWA’s reputation against a backdrop of Greenpeace protests against the existing plant in 2000
  • Promote the project benefits to local residents and businesses
  • Engage audiences on the subjects of complex waste and planning
  • Dispel myths partly created by Greenpeace about the technology and safety record
  • Encourage project acceptance to minimise avoidable objections causing programme delays and increased costs
  • Establish a communications legacy.

Target audience

Our stakeholder mapping and modelling identified two audience groups:

  • People living and working in Edmonton
  • Potential advocates amongst the 1.7 million council taxpayers across north London.

Edmonton has high levels of deprivation, literacy is low and the predominant first language spoken is Turkish.

North London is comprised of a diverse, time poor audience, where many languages are spoken presenting challenges in communicating complex issues. It has one of the highest rates of people under 35 in the UK.

Strategy

Our strategy was to tell a compelling narrative using relevant and accessible channels and tools. NLWA plans to turn 700,000 tonnes of household waste into heat and power using clean and safe technology. Rumours had been circulating around plans for a new incinerator, which were causing unnecessary concern. We repositioned the narrative as a ‘heat and power’ project and developed a ‘conversation about recycling, waste, heat and power’, focusing on the benefits and aspirations of the scheme, rather than bin bags and incinerators.

Preparation

  • Brand and project identity to promote the benefits and create a legacy for NLWA
  • Advertising campaign at strategic transport hubs
  • Digital strategy including website, social media campaign to engage younger people, and online newspaper advertising
  • Animation videos to remove language and literacy barriers
  • Infographics to translate complex technical information
  • Multi-platform media relations campaign – pan-London, north London and B2B
  • Briefing politicians to promote the benefits
  • Advertorial in Londra Gazete – a local Turkish language newspaper
  • Crisis communications strategy, planning and rehearsal.

Outputs

  • 100% positive media coverage
  • 11,000 website visitors in 90 days of consultation driven by social media
  • 28 adverts in local and north London newspapers
  • 2 advertorials in north London’s Turkish newspapers
  • ‘Fox’ character from animation used as a sub-brand for children and parents
  • 10 infographics for use across digital channels
  • 15 councillors across seven Boroughs became ambassadors
  • No protests.

Outcomes

  • Successful communication of complex issues: average time spent on the website by 11,000 visitors was 2.5 minutes – the length of our project animation
  • Public acceptance – the Planning Inspectorate received 20 relevant representations raising points for discussion; a similar project, Rookery South Energy From Waste, attracted 1,004
  • Programme is on time with no delays – construction is due to start in 2019
  • Communications legacy for NLWA – to promote the use of heat and power from industrial facilities around the world and showcase its leading expertise.