Weekly Update, 24th October 2011

Energy:

Following last week’s announcement of a consultation on revised ROC bandings for renewable energy sources, further positive news for the wave and tidal industry in the form of a Scottish Government announcement that £18M is to be made available to “improve capability and infrastructure, as well as helping fund technology solutions and the roll out of marine arrays”. The Scottish Government is to consult with the industry about the nature of projects to be supported by the fund. You can read more at http://www.scotland.gov.uk/News/Releases/2011/10/24094600 and see Communications below for local reaction.

Good to see the announcement this week that Kongsberg Maritime have signed a deal to support the underwater noise assessments associated with Aquamarine Power’s Oyster wave device, the latest version of which has recently been installed at the EMEC test site in Orkney. Kongsberg will also be involved in supporting a deployment of the device off the NW coast of Lewis. The device will utilise Kongsberg’s own RUNES system for recording underwater noise. The RUNES devices are all machined, assembled and tested at Kongsberg’s Wick facility.  You can read more at http://www.km.kongsberg.com/ks/web/nokbg0238.nsf/AllWeb/9D696611ADDB2B0AC1257935003146CA?OpenDocument

Further positive news on tidal energy from Rolls-Royce subsidiary Tidal Generation Ltd, whose 500kW tidal device currently being tested in Orkney has just reached the milestone of having generated 100 megawatt hours of power. TGL hope to deploy 20 tidal devices in the Inner Sound between Stroma and Caithness as part of the 400MW Meygen tidal programme.

Business Services:

I met this week with Richard Stoneham and Helen Brown of the Pensions Adminisatration Office (PAO) at Forss. The meeting was to update on progress with the PAO’s “Agenda for Change” programme which has seen the PAO move from its previous base in Thurso to larger premises at the Forss Business & Technology Park. Helen is on a 12 month secondment from AON to Babcock, taking on Yvonne McCarthy’s role whilst she is on maternity leave. The Agenda for Change programme is working well, with staff now settled into a more open, inclusive working environment at Forss, and almost through a detailed change management process. A third phase of work (systems integration) is about to commence, and Richard Stoneham was also able to confirm that he is looking at opportunities for new contract work that might in future allow the PAO to exand its staff complement.

Food & Drink:

Reid’s of Caithness have announced plans to create 6 new jobs in addition to the 36 staff currently employed at their bakery premises in Thurso. The news comes as the company continues to win contracts such as the recent one to supply clebrity chef Jamie Oliver’s LME food range. See also Communications below for news of the company’s success in the Highlands & Islands Food & Drink Awards. http://www.johnogroat-journal.co.uk/News/Jobs-hope-as-Caithness-bakery-set-to-expand-26102011.htm

Enabling Activities:

I gathered a small group of local stakeholders this week to inform the study being carried out by consultants AECOM on the “internal” transport infrastructure requirements of the area in relation to the energy sector. The consultants have gathered a range of comments and issues from the meeting, and are now preparing their own thoughts – final report is due around the end of November.

A new online resource has also been launched to help companies seeking contracts in the public sector. The online “Supplier Journey” is designed to guide businesses through the process of applying for contracts, making the system more streamlined and easier to understand. The site was developed in association with companies who have been through the process already. The site is on the Scottish Government website at http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Topics/Government/Procurement/Selling/SupplierJourney

The Caithness & North Sutherland Fund (CNSF) was launched at an event at Caithness Horizons this week. This Fund is worth £4M over the lifecycle of the Low Level Waste Facility being built at Dounreay, and is aimed at community organisations in the Dounreay travel-to-work area. The Fund’s Coordinator is David Shearer, based at the Caithness Partnership’s office in Wick, and the Fund is now open for applications. More details can be accessed at the CNSF website – www.cnsf.org.uk . Coverage of the launch was in this week’s Caithness Courier (not online).

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: