Weekly Update, 29th August 2011

Energy:
I met this week with representatives of Energy Hunt, the Caithness-based company that has recently won the contract to maintain the Met Mast being installed as part of the proposed Moray Offshore Renewables Ltd offshore wind site off the Caithness coast. Energy Hunt is also working for Scottish Power Renewables facilitating community engagement related to its tidal site at the Ness of Duncansby. Company owner Richard Hunt is therefore well-placed to see the upcoming supply chain opportunities from offshore renewables, and we discussed a range of business issues.

CNSRP’s Executive Board met this week (see communications below) and I accompanied CNSRP Executive Board Chairman Sir Anthony Cleaver to meet Willie Watt, Chairman of Wick Harbour Authority and Site Manager at Subsea 7’s Wester facility. We discussed current work at Wick harbour, and opportunities in the renewables sector as well as the role of the harbour in the wider regeneration of Wick. Highland Council will take forward a Masterplan for Wick Harbour and Lower Pulteneytown as part of its North Highland Vision action plan, and I undertook to bring WHA and Highland Council together to discuss details.

We also visited Scrabster Harbour, where work has already begun on the £20M Phase 1 development of the harbour area, which will deliver significantly increased quayside and laydown space, further enhancing the port’s attractiveness to the renewables and oil & gas sectors.

Enabling Activities:
HIE’s “Ambitious for Tourism – Caithness & North Sutherland” programme continues to develop, and I attended a first meeting of its small Leadership Group, which will drive forward the programme with support from a series of small area-based groups.

I also met this week with Tom Campbell, Chief Executive of the North Highland Initiative and Jane Wood, Chief Executive of Scottish Business in the Community. Our discussions focused mainly on the work of SBC, and the opportunities for that organisation’s significant experience to support the activities happening in our area. We agreed a number of areas of common interest, and it will be intersting to see how these opportunities might develop over the coming months. As with a number of other areas of work at present, I feel that Caithness/ North Sutheland has the ability to act as a microcosm of the wider Scottish economy, offering the potential to take forward initiatives which can then be rolled out to other areas.

SNH and Marine Scotland are holding a joint event in Perth on 3rd November on the theme of Marine Renewables and the Natural Heritage. More details from http://www.snh.gov.uk/news-and-events/events/event-details/?id=690

A reminder that the Scottish Renewables Marine Conference and Exhibition takes place at Eden Court in Inverness on 19th-20th September. You can see the programme and register to attend at http://www.scottishrenewables.com/events/marine-conference-exhibition/

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 Partnership’s Executive Board met at North Highland College’s Centre for Energy & the Environment in Thurso. Members heard an interim update on the Study looking at the current impact of Dounreay decommissioning on the area’s economy, and members also discussed project-level priorities for the coming year; proposals for a Pentland Firth Marine Energy Park; the proposed format for a public version of the Partnership’s delivery plan; and agreed a forthcoming CNSRP news magazine.
Following the successful staging of the Royal National Mod in Caithness last October, with support from Highland Council, NDA and HIE, it has been announced that the regional version of the Mod will now be held in Caithness every second year, the county only having hosted the event twice in the previous 20 years. The story can be read at http://www.johnogroat-journal.co.uk/News/Mod-a-big-boost-for-Caithness-economy-7166185.htm