Weekly Update from CNSRP

Week commencing 17th January
The Partnership’s Delivery Group met this week, and discussed progress on our two priority areas of energy and business services. Roy Kirk, HIE’s Area Manager reported progress in existing businesses and with targeted inward investment research and campaigns in specific areas of both energy and business services. We discussed with HIE, DSRL and Highland Council the opportunities and challenges associated with “shared services” – an increasingly common model, particularly in the public sector.
I delivered a presentation to the Highland Council’s Planning, Environment and Development (PED) Committee. I was able to update members on progress made since the launch of the 2007-2010 Caithness & North Sutherland Action Plan, and to highlight the areas of focus for the 2011-2014 period. As with all PED Committee meetings there is a webcast of the meeting available to view at http://www.highland.public-i.tv/site/player/pl_compact.php?a=50718&t=0&m=wm&l=en_GB
The PED Committee also heard and noted an update on the recent submission by the Highlands & Islands Transmission Working Group (HITWG) to OFGEM’s call for evidence into Project TransmiT, its review of transmission charging and associated connection arrangements. This is a key issue for the renewables industry in the Highlands & islands, as current transmission charging and connection arrangements are felt to disadvantage areas such as ours. A copy of the HITWG submission can be viewed at  http://www.highland.gov.uk/NR/rdonlyres/BE7CBAE5-BB20-4F43-95BE-CDE43BA475B5/0/Item12Ped0911.pdf
I met Jennifer Irvine of Business Gateway to discuss progress on business start-ups in Caithness. Although reports in the news this week have highlighted the ongoing difficulties for small businesses in the current financial climate, there have been a number of new businesses set up in Caithness during 2010/11. I hope to discuss North Sutherland figures with David Knight, Jennifer’s equivalent in Sutherland, in the near future. Our aim is to share information between BG, the North Highland Regeneration Fund and HIE to maximise the resources available. BG and HIE already work closely together to evaluate current and potential growth companies, and NHRF provides valuable loan funding to local businesses.
I met today (Friday) with CNSRP Chairman Sir Anthony Cleaver, HIE Chief Executive Alex Paterson, Highland Council’s Chief Executive Alistair Dodds and Director of Planning & Development Stuart Black to finalise relevant elements of the Partnership’s 2011-2014 Action Plan. Sir Anthony has also recently discussed relevant aspects of the Plan with NDA representatives. We hope to present a report on progress to date, and plans for further activity in the coming years, when Partnership representatives meet the Minister for Enterprise, Energy and Tourism Jim Mather MSP next month.
Also today I met with Anna MacConnell of NDA and Roy Kirk of HIE to discuss ways in which these two partner organisations in CNSRP are able to work together on potential future funding opportunities.