Weekly Update, 26th July 2010

  • I issued a summary of programme delivery priorities to partners today, and hope to agree this next week so that it can be communicated widely in the coming weeks as we set out our plans to deliver jobs over the coming months and years.
  • I chaired a meeting of the Partnership’s IT connectivity group this week, at which we focused on the potential to deliver superfast broadband to this area. Both HIE and the Highland Council are closely involved in this, and Caithness Chamber of Commerce have agreed to lead a survey of businesses to demonstrate levels of demand for better digital connectivity.
  • I attended a meeting with representatives from O’ Neill Europe. O’Neill operate the Coldwater Classic professional surfing event that generates so much good international publicity for Caithness each year. We discussed O’Neill’s forward strategy for the event, and ways in which Caithness could be made more attractive to event organisers. Events-based tourism is generally-agreed to be one of the best ways of deriving additional income in our area.
  • I chaired a  video-conferenced meeting with a representative of the major workforce transition programme just established in north Wales around the Wylfa and Trawsfynydd nuclear sites. The meeting included members of the workforce transition group brought together under the partnership’s umbrella. The issues faced there are very similar to our own, so it was very useful to hear about lessons being learned as we develop our own programme, which will be submitted for Stage 2 of its European funding process in mid August.
  • I met with former HIE Chief Executive Sandy Cumming in his new role as Partnership Director for Offshore Energy at The Scottish Government. Duncan Mackay of The Crown Estate joined us to discuss the Pentland Firth project, and likely developments now that the second stage of the Scottish Government’s National Renewables Infrastructure Plan has been published (read it at http://www.scottish-enterprise.com/your-sector/energy/energy-background/energy-reports/~/media/publications/Energy%20Sector/National%20Renewables%20Infrastructure%20Plan%20Stage%202.ashx). The report gives little detail on potential developments for wave and tidal, but does give some useful pointers to help us develop our local plans for Scrabster harbour and other onshore infrastructure.