Since 2017, BECG has supported all communications in relation to the formulation of proposals for the Bradwell B nuclear power station in Maldon, Essex, ensuring that positive messaging resonates locally despite a loud oppositional voice. Shortly after the Bradwell B Stage One public consultation launched on 4th March 2020, evolving COVID-19 guidelines meant that the majority of the public exhibitions and other key meetings had to be cancelled. In response, Bradwell B and our team of experts at communications agency, BECG were forced to act fast to create an engaging digital first approach, to communicate with residents, councillors, and other stakeholders in lockdown conditions.
Stakeholder and community engagement
The communications strategy spans multiple local authorities and a hugely diverse array of communities. BECG has mapped stakeholders at all tiers from the local community to Central Government, and maintains a robust stakeholder database that clearly records all contact, as a critical part of the DCO process. The project involves coordinating letter-drops and collateral to circa 40,000 addresses.
The COVID-19 pandemic escalated shortly following the launch of the Stage 1 consultation on 4th March 2020, and partway through a series of public exhibitions. BECG has since helped to deliver a virtual public exhibition and 15 surgery-style telephone sessions in which those who want to talk to the project team book a 20-minute slot for a conference/video call.
BECG designed and developed the project website for Bradwell B, which is inclusive of a virtual public exhibition. The site has been designed with a wide range of users in mind, from key senior stakeholders through to local residents, and as such is designed to be widely accessible wherever possible. The virtual exhibition was consistently the second most-visited page on the project website, attracting over 8,400 unique users during the consultation. The virtual exhibition included information boards from the original public exhibitions, as well as informative videos on the proposals. The revised digital offering of interactive proposals and virtual exhibition were taken from concept to launch in under two weeks.
NIPA cited Bradwell B as an example of best practice consultation during the pandemic for its use of interactive proposals and a virtual exhibition. The interactive proposals generated 8,195 unique page views during the consultation, and a bounce rate of 30% which is over 10% lower than the average website bounce rate.
BECG manages all of the Bradwell B social media activity – developing a successful social media strategy, using both paid-for and organic activity across Facebook and Twitter, drawing attention to the proposals, key milestones, how to engage and provide feedback on the consultation. Commitment was made to respond to all relevant comments ASAP, reassuring stakeholders that their views had been heard. Social media was the 3rd largest acquirer of visitors and brought in 11.9% of the total website visits during the consultation.
Radio and Spotify Campaign
During lockdown, 91% of UK people listened to the radio at the height of the crisis. To replace the use of traditional advertising and engagement, Bradwell B created a radio advertising campaign via Essex-based commercial radio stations and Spotify, reaching between 510,000-540,000 people. In total, the campaign drove over 1,700 unique visitors to the project website. To listen to the radio advert, click here.
MyBradwell is an ongoing creative community project, formulated and delivered by BECG, that harnesses the history of Bradwell-on-Sea’s connection to nuclear power which spans more than half a century. We have created an online archive where the local community can share their written, photographic, video and audio memories of Bradwell.