Weekly Update, 20th February 2012

Energy:

EnergyHunt – the Caithness-based renewables engineering company – have just opened an office in Thurso town centre, next door to the Partnership’s office in the space formerly occupied by The Crown Estate. CNSRP’s Advisory Board has agreed a joint working arrangement with Scottish Power Renewables, for whom EnergyHunt provides local support.

Staff from the Environmental Research Institute in Thurso will be taking part in a mission to Chile that is being organised by Scottish Development International next month. The mission should be an opportunity to promote Scottish renewables capabilities to Chile, where the development of renewables is gaining momentum.

Enabling Activities:
The CNSRP Advisory Board met in Wick this week. The Board brings together Highland and Community Councillors, MP and MSP, Chamber of Commerce, Dounreay Stakeholder Group, DSRL, North Highland College, Trades Unions and public bodies such as SNH with CNSRP partners HIE, Highland Council, NDA and Skills Development Scotland. Members discussed a range of current issues, including transport infrastructure (road and air); recent inward investment-related activities and enhanced communication with The Crown Estate on marine and offshore renewables. A number of actions will now be taken forward. You can view the minutes of previous Advisory Board meetings at http://www.cnsrp.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/CNSRP-Advisory-Board-111108-minutes-Final.pdf

Members of the Partnership’s Delivery Group will come together next week to review our plans to agree a “roadmap” for creating economic benefit from marine/ offshore renewables. We will meet with an independent contractor working on behalf of the Crown Estate , so we can ensure that our plans are based on the most up to date intelligence from industry.

The UK Parliament’s Energy & Climate Change Committee has published its report on “The Future of Marine Renewables in the UK”. The report makes a number of recommendations to address what it describes as “bureaucratic, financial and practical” obstacles in the way of maintaining the UK’s world-leading status in marine energy technologies.  http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201012/cmselect/cmenergy/1624/162402.htm Scottish Natural Heritage has just published research on cetacean sightings in the Pentland Firth area over the last 30 years, as part of its ongoing research programme to support understanding of the area’s marine environment and its potential relationship to marine energy developments. The study points to geographic gaps in observation at points such as Armadale on the North Sutherland coast.  http://www.snh.gov.uk/publications-data-and-research/publications/search-the-catalogue/publication-detail/?id=1875

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:

  • Caithness Transport Forum’s response to the Scottish Government’s consultation on future rail service provision is covered in this week’s John O’ Groat Journal. The response focuses on the need for reduced journey times between Caithness and Inverness if rail is to become competitive with road transport. CTF Chairman John Green, who sits on CNSRP’s Advisory Board, is quoted.  http://www.johnogroat-journal.co.uk/News/Call-to-speed-up-rail-trips-7647476.htm
  • Together with Dounreay Stakeholder Group I have been working on arrangements for the visit to Caithness of a Scottish Government Minister next month. The visit is in response to invites from both the DSG and CNSRP Chairman Sir Anthony Cleaver.