Weekly update, 25th June 2012

Energy:
As reported last week, Scottish & Southern Energy (SSE) launched its online procurement portal for supply chain companies seeking to tender for work with the company. A variety of current tendering opportunities is at www.sseopen4business-highlands.com/sse/publicSearchForm.html#publicSearchForm and interested businesses are being encouraged to register their organisation and create a business profile on the site.

Gills Harbour Ltd’s Chairman Bill Mowat is quoted in this week’s local press outlining ambitious plans for redevelopment work at the harbour. www.johnogroat-journal.co.uk/News/Poer-expansion-planned-at-Gills-21062012.htm

Enabling Activities:
Skills Development Scotland has published its Operating Plan 2012/13 and its Corporate Plan for 2012-15. It sets out several operational goals: Enabling people to meet their potential; Making skills work for employers; and Working together to improve the skills and learning system. SDS’s new Area Manager for Highland is Seonaig Campbell, and she will join CNSRP’s Advisory Board, replacing Ian Carse.  www.skillsdevelopmentscotland.co.uk/our-story/our-achievements-and-ambitions/our-future-ambitions.aspx

Highland Councillors have voted this week to provide part-funding for detailed design works needed on the A9 Trunk Road at Berriedale Braes. Following previous confirmation of support from Transport Scotland a final element of the potential funding package – a contribution from the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority – will be considered by the NDA Board in August. A completed funding package would allow work to take the project to “shovel-ready” status, so that when funding becomes available the improvement works can be carried out. The project has been part of CNSRP’s action plan since 2007, and this latest decision is a clear sign of how partnership working can bring results.

Scottish Government Cabinet Secretary for Infrastructure and Capital Investment Alex Neil this week announced £120 million funding for the Next Generation (superfast) Broadband programme currently being procured by HIE. www.scotland.gov.uk/News/Releases/2012/06/broadband-boost25062012 The news was also welcomed by Cllr Drew Hendry, the Leader of the Highland Council www.johnogroat-journal.co.uk/News/Council-leader-Drew-Hendry-welcomes-120m-broadband-cash-25062012.htm

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 Study on “The Socio-economic Impacts of Dounreay Decommissioning” was published this week. The Study, which was funded by HIE and DSRL, was carried out as a follow up to a “baseline” study funded  five years ago by the same organisations. The study authors, Grangeston economics, suggest that there is evidence that the area’s economy has changed over the past five years. Despite the continuing financial difficulties in the wider global economy nearly 80% of local supply chain businesses surveyed have seen turnover grow, and 44% of those companies had seen their reliance on Dounreay contracts decrease. A workforce survey also found that twice as many respondents as five years ago showed an interest in starting up businesses, and 23% more respondents than five years ago said they intended to stay and work in the area beyond their time at Dounreay. The report also highlights the important role the Partnership has played in enabling this. Press coverage of the report has varied, from reporting of the encouraging economic signs in the Press & Journal and John O’Groat Journal www.johnogroat-journal.co.uk/News/Economy-proves-there-is-life-after-Dounreay-29062012.htm, to a headline on the BBC website that the area’s population is ageing faster than the rest of the Highlands. www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-highlands-islands-18612646 You can view a copy of the report at www.cnsrp.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/Socio-economic-Impacts-of-Dounreay-Decommissioning-Final-Report.pdf and a copy of the press release at www.hie.co.uk/about-hie/news-and-media/archive/report-reveals-changing-shape-of-caithness-and-sutherland-economy.html
  • A reminder that Scottish Hydro Electricity Transmission Ltd (SHETL) has published consultation information on its proposed plans for upgrades required on the transmission network between Dounreay and Mybster (on the Causeymire). The information is downloadable at www.sse.com/DounreayMybster/ and staff from the company will hold public exhibitions on the proposals on Wednesday 4th July at Caithness Horizons, Thurso (2pm-7pm) and Thursday 5th July at the Ulbster Arms hotel, Halkirk (2pm-7pm).