Weekly Update, 16th May 2011

Energy:

The international All Energy Exhibition & Conference took place in Aberdeen this week, with a strong presence from companies from Caithness. Most of the Caithness-related stands in the exhibition hall were part of the Caithness Chamber of Commerce/ Invest Caithness presence in the “HI-Energy pavilion” co-ordinated by Highlands and Islands Enterprise. It was good to see Scrabster Harbour Trust, Wick Harbour Authority, EnergyHunt, Mowat Technical Design Services and ERI/ UHI stands busy throughout the two day event.  Caithness Chamber had also prepared capability information on a range of local companies to pass on to exhibition visitors. There was also a parallel programme of conference sessions, from which I was able to pick up several key contacts relating to skills in particular. It was particularly interesting to hear many people from industry talking of the crucial importance of skills transition, or retraining, as opposed to new entrants into the workforce. Availability of experienced, skilled labour was described as a key issue. These contacts will be followed up over the coming days.

As mentioned two weeks ago, The Crown Estate has been working on a “build-out story” for the Wave and Tidal industry, to illustrate the likely requirements and timescales for achieving commercialisation of devices. At All Energy TCE launched the booklet entitled “Wave and Tidal Energy in the PFOW: How the Projects could be built” – highlighting that by around 2015 it is expected that some £100 million could be invested by industry in developing Pentland Firth projects. You can download copies of this document from http://www.thecrownestate.co.uk/pentland_firth_how_the_projects_could_be_built.pdf and you can read the associated press release with reactions from Scottish Government, Scottish Renewables and HIE at http://www.thecrownestate.co.uk/newscontent/92-report-highlights-pentland-firth-supply-chain-opportunities.htm

Also launched in Aberdeen was a new web portal for Offshore Wind opportunities in Scotland. The site, a joint venture of Scottish Government, Highlands and Islands Enterprise and Scottish Enterprise, was launched by First Miniser Alex Salmond, and has been designed to provide up-to-the-minute signposting for all information relating to offshore wind. It’s an excellent resource for supply chain information, and can be viewed at www.offshorewindscotland.org.uk

Following his appointment to serve as First Minister, Alex Salmond MSP has announced the names of his full Ministerial team. The Energy, Enterprise and Tourism role formerly held by Jim Mather will be taken by Fergus Ewing, MSP for the Inverness & Nairn constituency. A full list of appointments can be viewed at: http://www.scotland.gov.uk/News/Releases/2011/05/20132452

Enabling activities:

As mentioned last week, a report is going forward to the Highland Council’s Planning, Environment & Development Committee for discussion at its meeting on 25th May, to take forward the ideas put forward during the “onshore visioning” project for marine energy in Caithness and North Sutherland, which was developed with The Prince’s Foundation for the Built Environment, HIE and Scottish Government. The report to committee can be viewed at http://www.highland.gov.uk/NR/rdonlyres/9E201C09-EE16-4B83-90BE-361E20F41131/0/Item30Ped5711.pdf and an appendix to the Committee report shows a draft Action Plan to prioritise potential actions for Council and other partners to take forward. It can be viewed at  http://www.highland.gov.uk/NR/rdonlyres/D6650792-911D-4FF4-B60E-8264BAA76807/0/Item30Appendix2.pdf

Work to update our understanding of the economic impact of Dounreay decommissioning continues through the HIE and DSRL-funded study being carried out by Grangeston Economics. This week I discussed progress with the contractors to hear how their economic impact analysis and local surveying has progressed. The study will provide an opportunity to gauge how far the area’s economy has moved since a similar study was carried out in 2006. The 2006 study can be viewed at  http://www.dounreay.com/UserFiles/File/economy/Dourneay%20baseline%20report.pdf and I hope a final version of the 2011 study will be agreed during June.

I have also posted to the CNSRP website a copy of the summary of local stakeholder feedback to both bid teams working on the Dounreay PBO Competition. This document summarises the two rounds of meetings held between the bid teams and Dounreay Unions/ Local Stakeholders. A copy can be accessed at http://www.cnsrp.org.uk/files/downloads/download1805.pdf

Communications:

As part of an ongoing process of helping communicate progress with the delivery of aspects of our economic transition programme CNSRP’s partners work together to generate news stories for local, regional and national media. This week I have worked with partners on pieces featuring