Weekly update, 13th August 2012

Energy:
Meygen Ltd has submitted its planning applications to Highland Council for onshore facilities at Ness of Quoys and Ness of Huna. These facilities will support the development of the company’s tidal power project in the Inner Sound of the Pentland Firth. The two applications are supported by a range of searchable documents including environmental and socio-economic impact assessments and site plans, giving a sense of the scale of onshore facilities required. They are available to view on the Highland Council’s e-planning site at  http://wam.highland.gov.uk/wam/applicationDetails.do?activeTab=documents&keyVal=M7PW6UIH7R000

The Highland Council’s “North Highland onshore vision” programme continues with the launch of a Call for Sites in Caithness and North Sutherland. The purpose of the call is to identify additional sites that might be of use in supporting the development of onshore economic opportunities associated with the marine energy sector, following the recent undertaking of an audit of business and industrial land in Caithness and North Sutherland. Further information and an expression of interest form are available at http://www.highland.gov.uk/yourenvironment/planning/energyplanning/renewbleenergy/#norhig and a deadline of Wednesday 3rd October has been set for receipt of forms.

The UK-wide Low Carbon Innovation Group brings together UK Govt’s DECC and BIS departments as well as Scottish Government, the Technology Strategy Board, The Carbon Trust and others. The Group has just released three new “Technology Innovation Needs Assessments” on Marine Energy, Carbon Capture and Storage and Electricity Networks. This follows a similar report for Offshore Wind which was published in February 2012. The reports identify and value the key innovation needs, and assess the requirements for public sector support. With cost reduction a key driver for the marine energy industry, innovation will play a crucial role as projects in the Pentland Firth and Orkney waters continue to lead the world. The reports can be viewed at  http://www.decc.gov.uk/en/content/cms/funding/funding_ops/innovation/tinas/tinas.aspx

Enabling Activities:
Representatives of CNSRP’s Delivery Group met this week with Highlands & Islands Airports Ltd (HIAL) to look at current issues and opportunities relating to Wick Airport, which is a key asset for the area’s economy. HIAL is currently working with HIE to identify future business opportunities for the airport.

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:

  • As previously reported I have have been working on a progress report on CNSRP to be tabled at the first meeting of the Highland Council’s Area Committee for Caithness and Sutherland, when it meets on Monday next week. Stuart Black, Director of Planning & Development, will present the report and I will attend to help answer questions on current issues and progress. The report is available to view or download at http://www.highland.gov.uk/NR/rdonlyres/583068CD-544B-4526-8520-8475AA9E493E/0/Item5CS0112.pdf and the meeting will also be webcast, beginning at 10.30am on Monday at http://www.highland.public-i.tv/core/
  • As mentioned above, the Highland Council has launched a “Call for Sites” with the potential to support development of onshore economic opportuities associated with marine energy. This latest step in the Council’s North Highland Onshore Vision action plan was covered in the John O’Groats Journal, where I gave a welcome to the news, as it further enhances our knowledge of potentially available assets in the area (not online).
  • Caithness Chamber of Commerce’s Town Centre project for Wick and Thurso takes a full-page advert in this week’s local press to promote the “Spend it Here” card. A long list of town centre retailers offer discounts to cardholders, with 2800 cards now issued, and the scheme extended to December 2012. A list of participating retailers is available on the project’s two town centre websites http://wicktown.co.uk and http://thursotown.co.uk The programme has been supported by LEADER and the NDA.