Award-winning communications experts in the built environment

West Cumbria Pipeline

Case Study

West Cumbria Pipeline

The brief BECG developed and delivered a brand-led communications and engagement strategy to highlight


United Utilities’ largest infrastructure project in over 100 years, with an investment of over £350m creating hundreds of jobs and improving and protecting the regions’ natural assets. Providing resilience of water supply for at least 150 years into the future.

West Cumbria Pipeline

The brief

BECG developed and delivered a brand-led communications and engagement strategy to highlight the purpose and long-term benefits of United Utilities’ West Cumbria Pipeline project. Historically over 80,000 homes and businesses in and around the towns of Egremont, Cockermouth and Whitehaven had relied on local water sources. These water sources, including Ennerdale Water, were also home to rare and protected species. The risk to this precious wildlife and population growth required an alternative water supply. Taking more than seven years to complete, the 62-mile West Cumbria Pipeline has tapped into capacity at Thirlmere reservoir ensuring resilience and projecting the natural environment.

Our work sought to:

  • Manage United Utilities’ reputation updating stakeholders and customers on completion timeframes
  • Champion and celebrate the project’s success, highlighting its regional importance and legacy
  • Reinforce United Utilities purpose pillars: Water Makes the North West i) Greener, ii) Healthier and iii) Stronger
  • Showcase the project in numbers to communicate its scale and significance.

Our approach

Our instruction came towards the end of Covid19 social distancing restrictions and needed to combine both digital and traditional communications and engagement methods. This maximised involvement of local people and stakeholders whilst ensuring everyone was able to take part in a way that they felt comfortable.

BECG worked with United Utilities to develop an online platform for the project. This provided a central and engaging repository to host and showcase the projects digital and interactive assets including a virtual exhibition which replicated the experience offered via an in-person roadshow, which utilised video, printed material and a walk-on plan of the pipeline route. Both in-person and online people were encouraged to provide their feedback on the event and to ask questions of the project team.

These events also featured vox pops developed with a range of United Utilities employees, which showcased the breadth of roles supported by the project and demonstrated the careers it had supported from apprentice roles through to Project Director positions.

Our instruction has also involved a series of direct customer mailings to provide an update on the project, explaining what work has been undertaken, why the work needed to happen and ensure transparency for timings of the switch in water supply. These mailings have also provided people with a direct phoneline to speak with the project team as well as details of a ‘postcode’ checker so people can understand whether their supply is affected by the change and when any changes in supply will take place.

The results

  • Over 852 people attended the face to face and virtual events
  • More than 81,000 digital impressions on social ads
  • A series of mailings rolled out to over 80,000 homes across West Cumbria
  • The project’s delivery is ongoing with a customer communications continuing to be rolled out and the Freephone information live.