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New Beyond Brunel podcast

Beyond Brunel brings together industry leaders and experts to talk about the role of infrastructure in a net zero future for the South West.

Famous engineer, Isambard Kingdom Brunel helped shape the South West, creating some of the region’s most iconic and enduring infrastructure.

But what does the South West need in future to meet the unprecedented challenges posed by the nature and climate emergencies?

A new podcast series, Beyond Brunel, explores the role of infrastructure in the South West’s transition to net zero carbon by 2050, while improving people’s lives, helping the region to become more productive and protecting nature and the environment.

Commissioned and devised by the South West Infrastructure Partnership (SWIP) with funding from the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) South West, Beyond Brunel brings together infrastructure leaders and industry experts for wide-ranging discussions on the transformation of the region’s infrastructure systems.

Entitled Innovation and Productivity, the first episode features special guests, Jane Austin, Director of Engineering and Asset Management for the Wales and Western Region, Network Rail, Andrew Page-Dove, Operational Control Director, National Highways, Natalie Bird, Net Zero and Carbon Management Consultant, Mott MacDonald and Bryony Chetwode, Stakeholder Advisor and Secretary, Travelwatch Southwest. Recorded at Fresh Air Studios in Plymouth, the series is presented by civil engineer, Christopher Ackland.

A key challenge explored in the episode is the problem of disjointed transport infrastructure in the region. Guests talk in detail about how increasing connections between road, rail, and active forms of travel, such as cycling and walking, could improve people’s journeys. They also discuss putting the traveller first and making travel time more useful for people through better digital connectivity.     

Ackland, who studied engineering at the University of Plymouth and now works for engineering consultancy, WSP, said:

“Brunel shaped the region through grand infrastructure projects, but we can’t just build our way to a net zero future. As an engineer, I’m inspired by the opportunities that Brunel’s ingenuity created for the South West, however, our podcast guests focus on a new kind of infrastructure revolution, which will help our region respond to the climate crisis, changes in demography and social behaviours. The conversations will appeal to anyone keen to understand infrastructure challenges and how those working in the industry are thinking about the future.”

The series accompanies the South West Vision 2050 report, which uses the podcast discussions as a basis for examining what the region needs to do to achieve an effective, forward-facing infrastructure system. The report, produced by WSP on behalf of SWIP and ICE South West, identifies four areas for action, three key asks of political leaders and five big questions for defining future needs.

A new episode of the Beyond Brunel podcast will be available each month along with a set of case studies showing examples of infrastructure innovations and projects already underway across the South West.