After an action-packed Spotlight: East-West Event, Tangent reflects on realising the local benefits of the East-West mainline, analysing Atkins and Arup’s discussion around the role of larger organisations, existing challenges connecting with SMEs and how to get local communities involved in all stages of the scheme.
Atkins and Arup, two large UK engineering consultancies appeared on the East-West Main Line to discuss how they are boosting their efforts to involve local communities across every stage of the scheme.
You can watch the event on-demand here.
Multiple clients increase positive social value discussions
David Wilson, the principal engineer at Atkins, began the event by explaining: “Thinking about what are the drivers for change around social value is becoming more of a priority on schemes like this. One of these reasons is because projects are becoming more complex.”
In the past, many projects generally focused on a single client, focused on important, but conventional outcomes such as being speed, safety, and capacity. David went on to explain: “Now projects tend to have multiple clients. There is a strong focus on social value, carbon reduction and increasing biodiversity.”
There is a strong focus on social value, carbon reduction and increasing biodiversity
Acknowledging this change in the way projects are modelled, means both companies are actively working on ways in which they can work with local communities to meet their goals. Alister Harwood, director at Arup added: “Rather than just quantifying the benefits of a scheme in terms of journey time saved, the measures are getting much wider in terms of the carbon impact and wider social development benefits. That has in turn become enshrined in procurement.”
So, what does this mean for local communities?
One of the main focuses is involving the local communities in the feasibility and business case process during the early stages of projects. This will enable the local benefits to be set up before the entry into service. David added: “This could be access to housing, better transport links and more local jobs.”
“In the design and construction stage the local benefits could be hiring local apprentices and businesses to subcontract work for the actual construction of the scheme,” said David. This effort to include local construction workers and apprentices is a real driving force for local communities and more specifically construction workers in the early stages of their careers.
Atkins also acknowledges the role of large organisations. “Organisations are often quite focussed on progressing the schemes through the relevant governance and technical stage gates and they might not have the bandwidth to go out to the local companies and SMEs. So, I think that is where larger organisations like Arup and Atkins come in and act as the focal point for smaller companies and give them a route to the market,” explained David.
By getting all these views we get a much bigger picture of the problem and then we can coordinate our work to find a single solution, which then gets delivered
While large organisations can offer a route to the market, existing challenges include connecting with SMEs.
A key issue highlighted from the event which Atkins faces is the potential issue of not knowing the local presence in the area. Despite this though, David discussed: “Generally we do have well-established supply chains.”
Overall, Atkins and Arup hold a very positive outlook surrounding the constraints of the scheme. Alister ended the event explaining “I think once we’ve engaged that full range of specialists together, we can get around the constraints and challenges of the scheme. By getting all these views we get a much bigger picture of the problem and then we can coordinate our work to find a single solution, which then gets delivered.”