This post first appeared in Anthony Bullick’s Daily Post column
North Wales has always been a hub of renewable and green energy. This was set to ramp up further with sustainable and environmentally-friendly projects part of key programmes including the North Wales Growth Deal.
But with renewed vigour to “build back better” following COVID-19, now is the time to think about getting things in order for your own development.
There is plenty of goodwill out there when it comes to renewable and green infrastructure in general, but to make sure it’s a tide you can swim with on a local level, there are one or two things you can do ahead of time to make life easier for yourself.
A good communications plan will not only help smooth out the road to getting the project approved and financed, it will also ensure it runs efficiently to completion with support from the community and other key stakeholders, and backs up whatever you go on to do next.
Firstly, check your foundation content is in place before you click send on an application or get boots on the ground.
This will include a range of steps internally, with your staff brought on board and up to speed, ready to answer any questions as well as to be aware of key messages and procedures.
For schemes seeking the go ahead, focusing PR and communications activity on your prospective new neighbours and getting in front of the queries they will have will build relations and help avoid rumours having a chance to take hold.
Tactics could include a frequently asked questions section on your website, public exhibitions to identify hurdles and objections, and a print newsletter to ensure you’re reaching as many people as possible.
Sharing the benefits of the project, including for the community, is also advantageous. For example, will you be using local suppliers or recruiting people from the area, or providing much-needed charitable support to a local cause?
If the scheme is underway and work has started on site, frequent communication with stakeholders keeping them in the loop with what’s going on and where you’re up to will assist with the project running smoothly.
In addition, identify relevant politicians and councillors and understand their current positioning – are they for or against the development? Engage with them as often as required.
Securing media coverage as editorial with regular site updates including milestones and community engagement and added value will also help to build trust in your brand and the work being carried out.