Weekly update, 18th July 2011

Energy:

The NDA has just published a paper describing its “Preferred and Credible Options” for the management of DFR breeder materials which are currently stored at Dounreay. The potential transfer of spent fuels away from Dounreay to Sellafield was the subject of discussion at last month’s Dounreay Stakeholder Group. The preferred option of transportation to Sellafield would see the high hazards at Dounreay dealt with earlier in the decommissioning programme, but would also result in a reduction in job numbers on site. The paper can be accessed at  http://www.nda.gov.uk/news/dfr-exotic-fuel-options.cfm and comments on it can be submitted up til the end of August. The socio-economic subgroup of the Dounreay Stakeholder Group met this week to discuss local responses to the recommended course of action, and is to contact NDA for further information on the relative economic/ socio-economic impacts of the options over the period of the Lifetime Plan for the site, to enable an informed response to be made.

Ken Nicol (DSRL) and I met this week with representatives of two Tier 1 companies carrying out work at Sellafield. They visited Caithness sites this week, and were impressed by the quality of the Caithness supply chain. We also highlighted wider activities and opportunities in the energy sector, and spoke in particular about the ports infrastructure in the area and the opportunities potentially available to their businesses.

Enabling Activities:

The Partnership’s Delivery Group met this week to further focus in on priority projects that would benefit from collective partner support, and to discuss progress with proposals to create Enterprise Zones in Scotland.

Two new programmes were announced this week by Scottish Government to help enterprising organisations in the “third sector” grow and operate more efficiently. The £3 million Just Enterprise programme will deliver a wide range of business support to social entrepreneurs and third sector organisations across Scotland. It will lead to the creation of an online hub where organisations can go for support and assistance, and will complement existing support available through HIE and Business Gateway. And a further £4 million pounds will be provided through the Enterprise Growth Fund, where grants of between £25,000 and £200,000 may be awarded to enterprising third sector organisations with the most sustainable and ambitious business plans. HIE is a funding partner in both programmes.

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. I also speak on a regular basis to individuals and organisations across the area to update on progress. This week:

  • The recent meeting of Caithness Transport Forum agreed to communicate the range of transport stories currently being progressed, and Koreen MacDougall from Caithness Partnership has coordinated a series of stories for press. These are carried on the website of the John O’ Groat Journal – the draft conclusions of Berriedale Braes road enhancment study and the news of new coaches for the area’s bus routes. These are at http://www.johnogroat-journal.co.uk/News/Berriedale-Braes-upgrade-is-achievable.htm and  http://www.johnogroat-journal.co.uk/News/Stagecoach-to-introduce-six-new-buses-for-Caithness-15072011.htm The Press & Journal has also covered the latter story.
  • I submitted content for next month’s edition of the Dounreay News, which is published monthly and widely available to direct and supply chain workforce at Dounreay. CNSRP is given the opportunity to feature content each month focusing on progress with diversifying the area economy. This month’s submitted content included stories on Simon Coles’ recent secondment to HIE; AMC Engineering’s recent announcement of new jobs at its Lybster workshop; and Trades Union delegates flying the flag for Caithness & North Sutherland at the recent STUC Highlands and Islands Conference in Inverness. Previous editions of the Dounreay News can be viewed at http://www.dounreay.com/news-room/dounreay-news
  • NDA’s “Insight” magazine has just been published, and it carries pieces on the launch of the Make The Right Connections programme and the Scrabster harbour development, as well as highlighting the signing of the partnering agreement between NDA, DSRL and PBO on socio-economic activities. You can read the magazine online at http://www.nda.gov.uk/documents/upload/Insight-into-nuclear-decommissioning-6th-edition-June-2011.pdf
  • The campaign to retain the skilled jobs of HMRC staff has reached a critical stage, with key deadlines for HMRC responses to the solutions suggested by HIE, Highland Council and John Thurso MP. Local union official Allan Tait has penned a summary of the issues online at http://www.morningstaronline.co.uk/news/content/view/full/107190
  • I presented my quarterly update report to the members of the Dounreay Stakeholder group’s socio-economic subgroup at its meeting this week. The group’s focus this time was on formulating responses to the NDA’s paper on “Preferred and Credible Options” for the management of DFR breeder materials which are currently stored at Dounreay (see Energy section above).