Beyond Brunel podcast returns for second season

Beyond Brunel, the podcast from the South West Infrastructure Partnership (SWIP) is back for a second season bringing industry leaders and experts together to talk about key infrastructure challenges for the region.

Dedicated to exploring what it takes to create and maintain sustainable infrastructure, the podcast promises a deep dive into the pressing issues facing the South West as it strives to achieve its net zero carbon targets by 2050.

In season two, Christopher Ackland, a civil engineer and senior vice chair of the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) South West regional committee, hosts thought-provoking and informative conversations on a wide range of topics, including the future of the region’s roads, the development of floating offshore wind energy off the South West coast and the transition to nature positive infrastructure solutions.

The podcast, which has been running since February 2023, is receiving widespread interest within the infrastructure industry reaching 3,000 regular listeners across the major podcast providers and other platforms.

Reflecting on the success of season one, Paula Hewitt, chair of SWIP, said,

“Beyond Brunel is taking us on a fascinating journey, shedding light on critical issues concerning our region’s infrastructure challenges. The diverse topics covered are enlightening, emphasising the need for collaborative efforts across organisations. Season two promises to further enrich these conversations, offering innovative solutions to the challenges we face in achieving our net zero goals. The podcast targets a relatively niche audience, so we’re delighted it has already reached thousands of listeners and we hope to expand on that interest with this new season.”

The first episode looks at the need for an integrated approach to water management in the region. Matt Wheeldon, Director of Infrastructure Development, Wessex Water and Dave Turner, Coastal Engineer, Moffatt & Nichol, discuss how the South West can deal with extreme weather and avoid the environmental issues caused by storm overflows. They also explore how we can create more sustainable, nature-based solutions, such as rain gardens and green streets, and the need for coordinated efforts across various sectors and organisations to deliver beneficial outcomes and explore how this can be achieved.

Presenter, Christopher Ackland says the podcast is essential listening for anyone interested in regional infrastructure:  

“Season one was just the beginning. We are back with a compelling lineup of guests and discussions that tackle the complexities of South West infrastructure head-on. Our first episode confronts one of the hottest topics of recent months – integrated water management, which is managing water efficiently, responsibly, and with the environment in mind.

“With so many of us affected by recent storms, it’s easy to forget that large parts of the region  experienced a hosepipe ban in the summer. How we plan for extremes such as drought, flooding, and coastal erosion, and manage water for drinking and waste, has an impact on everyone – as well as the natural world. That’s why talking about integrated water management is so important, and – as a listeners will find out – it’s only by considering water networks, rivers, and the sea as a sum of parts, that we can respond in the best possible way as infrastructure professionals.”

The new season of the podcast is being launched to coincide with SWIP’s first all-day conference, taking place in Taunton on Wednesday 22 November, where 100 representatives from local government, business and industry will be collaborating on ideas to help regional infrastructure reduce carbon, adapt to the impacts of climate change, and become more nature friendly.

Beyond Brunel can be streamed or downloaded on popular platforms like Apple Podcasts and Spotify.