A key challenge for the West Midlands Interchange (WMI) team was explaining the development’s benefits for local stakeholders. The need for a strategic rail freight interchange (SRFI) in the area was established in 2004 as essential to address the shortage of logistics capacity in the West Midlands. Copper therefore needed to address the regional and national benefits against any local impact, particularly planned Green Belt construction, while delivering a compliant consultation to support the Development Consent Order application.
Copper designed and delivered a robust consultation strategy to guide the project from conception to consent. Through direct engagement, phased consultation events including statutory and supplementary consultation sessions, an advocacy programme and media management we told the story of WMI in ways that directly relate to stakeholders including local authotiries, residents and opposition groups. In doing so we drove engagement while minimising the risk of both objection from poor evidence gathered during consultation as well as the spread of misinformation.
Our work contributed to WMI being accepted for examination before being granted Development Consent of 4 May 2020. Both the client and local authorities complimented the consultation delivery, resulting in minimal issues during examination.
Peter Frost, Managing Director of Four Ashes and promotor of the West Midlands Interchange, said: “Copper has played a significant role in communicating the journey of West Midlands Interchange (WMI) from its public launch in April 2016 when it was a site on the map to delivering a watertight, evidence-based public consultation that played its part in securing a Development Consent Order in May 2020.
“Along the way, Copper brought perspective and expertise to the project team that was both strategic and practical: understanding that success was contingent upon intelligent communication and advocacy as much as compliant consultation.
“As a trusted advisor, Copper continues to demonstrate an integrity and commitment to ensuring communication of the project stays true to the team’s values as it is brought to market and moves towards construction: whether it is through direct engagement with residents and local communities, via the media or with national stakeholders.”