Stakeholder engagement programme delivered for major UK port under threat from infrastructure project

Freshwater was initially appointed by Associated British Ports (ABP) to deliver a long-term political engagement and communications programme for the Port of Newport to raise awareness of the potential impact of a new proposed motorway route in south east Wales.

Freshwater also designed and delivered key publications and provided tailored communications training to key personnel. The team subsequently supported ABP in the development of an ongoing stakeholder engagement strategy for the wider South Wales region.


50 page

Port of Newport 'Master Plan' designed and developed

22 face-to-face

briefings held with key political decision makers

£135m agreement

by Welsh Government to carry out re-modelling and dock improvements, should proposed relief road go ahead

Our initial brief involved an intensive political engagement and communication programme around the Welsh Government’s 2014 decision to go ahead with a proposed M4 relief road, using the route option known as the ‘black route’. This option would bisect the Port of Newport, substantially reducing the number of vessels able to use the North Dock of the port and utilising land that would otherwise be available to further develop the port.

It was essential that key stakeholders and opinion formers became aware of ABP’s concerns and the extent of the potential impact on the port.

Freshwater developed a campaign based on a mix of political engagement, proactive and reactive media relations to ensure that all key decision makers and opinion-formers understood that, while ABP was in favour of improvement measures to the M4 around Newport, it was seeking a solution that had the least potential to impact on the operation and future development of the port.

Freshwater brokered a series of briefing meetings with Welsh Government officials, MPs, AMs, local government officials and leading business organisations. During this time, ABP received positive support for its position on the M4 from a range of political and business stakeholders. We produced print and online visuals setting out ABP’s position on the M4 proposals, while coverage of ABP’s concerns was regularly secured in regional media and interviews with the regional director aired on BBC and ITV Wales.

Freshwater also worked with ABP to support the production, publication and formal launch of its 20-year Port of Newport Master Plan, a document that set out the company’s future vision for growth and development at the port until 2035.

A high-impact video was produced for the launch, featuring interviews with ABP’s regional director for South Wales and footage of the port in action. The 50-page Master Plan, formerly adopted by ABP and published in early 2017, identified what ABP wanted to achieve to ensure the port is in a position to capitalise on the commercial opportunities that could arise over the next 20 years.

Freshwater attended key days of the public inquiry into the M4 relief road proposals and provided comment and clarification for media on ABP’s position.

The combination of intensive political engagement, consistent media coverage and the strategically important publication of the Port of Newport Master Plan, helped ABP to clearly communicate the potential impact of, and its position on, the M4 relief road proposals.

Welsh Government engaged directly with ABP on its concerns, with the two parties subsequently reaching an agreement on plans to complete a remodelling of the port estate, should the construction of the relief road go ahead.

As a result of the agreement, ABP formally withdrew its objection to the proposals during the public inquiry, which reported to Ministers at the end of 2018.




Associated British Ports (South Wales)

Related services

    • Engagement & Consultation
    • Video Production
    • Design


    • Transport
    • Property & Infrastructure