Stakeholder and media engagement and planning support

Quantafuel

Client

Quantafuel

Project

Stakeholder and media engagement and planning support

Services

Community Engagement
Marketing
Public Relations
Strategy

Specialism

Infrastructure​, Regeneration and Energy

Date

2020 – Present

The Brief

To provide public and media relations and community engagement support to aid Quantafuel to:

  • secure planning permission and community, media, and political support for its proposed new 100,000 tonne plastics recycling facility at Port of Sunderland
  • raise awareness of Quantafuel/technology benefits, and the need for new facilities to specifically deal with plastic waste
  • inform stakeholders of the progress of the proposal through planning, the build programme and commissioning of the plant
  • position Quantafuel as an international specialist in the upcycling of plastic waste and its plans to expand into the UK.

What We Did

We developed and are currently delivering a three-phase programme of work as below:

Phase 1 – development of a communications strategy and plan for the project

This was based around audience insight and stakeholder mapping and a detailed understanding of the technology and the proposed operations.

We developed a communications plan, setting out objectives, identifying stakeholders and detailing an agreed core story, along with key messages, about the company and the proposed Sunderland development that explains in plain English:

  • what is being proposed
  • the economic, social, and environmental benefits (principally to Sunderland but also the wider region/UK
  • how the unique and sustainable technology works
  • how the very local community around the plant can benefit and get involved in the plans.

The strategy also included agreed communications channels and tactics, a timeline for planned activity and proposed metrics for measuring success.

Phase 2 – media, political and community engagement

DTW led a co-ordinated outreach programme of media, political and community engagement that began in the early stages and ran throughout the planning period. This included:

  • announcement of the plans with advance briefings for key stakeholders
  • pre-application consultation events giving local stakeholders the opportunity to view and influence the plans prior to the application being submitted
  • creation of a wide variety of content explaining the plans and the benefits (exhibition boards, leaflets, posters, web copy, social posts, and newspaper advertisements)
  • ongoing direct engagement with local councillors, MPs, colleges, and community groups
  • appropriate liaison with Port of Sunderland and council communications teams
  • targeted media relations with a focus on both print and broadcast regional and local media (and engagement with trade and business magazines/outlets)
  • direct engagement with neighbouring businesses and residents in the Hendon/Port area who may feel impacted by the plans
  • use of photography, artists’ impressions and video/drone/animation to show the location, ‘explain/sell’ the technology, and inform of the benefits
  • DTW input into preparation of Statement of Community Involvement and wider planning documents as required
  • organising job and skills fairs in the local community.

Phase 3 – ongoing engagement as the plant comes to life

This is a future phase of work – building on the pre-construction engagement activity, maintaining momentum and engagement with local stakeholders, and ensuring that Quantafuel is playing its part in the community as a good neighbour to nearby residents and businesses.

Results

Planning permission was granted in February 2023.

Quantafuel has a clear and consistent story to tell about its technology, its plans for Sunderland, its future expansion plans for other parts of the UK and how it is going to engage with the community.

The plans were well received by local politicians from all parties and by the majority of neighbouring businesses and residents. Pre-application consultation events were successful and resulted in local people coming forward to express an interest in job opportunities.

We secured in-person briefings for Quantafuel and subsequent endorsement from the Leader of Sunderland Council for the proposals, as well as extensive supporting media coverage in the North East.

DTW has been appointed by Quantafuel to support on other projects, and this communications model is now being used for other Quantafuel sites being developed in the UK.

100,000

tonne per annum plastics recycling facility approved

100

new permanent jobs

100%

of Sunderland Council's Planning and Highways Committed voted for the plans

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