Weekly update, 1st October 2012

Energy:
A reminder that RWE Npower Renewables are holding a “meet the buyer” event later this month with Energy North and HIE. Representatives from the firm, and from Balfour Beatty and I & H Brown, will be on hand to give advice on the procurement process, and to explain the type of contracts available during development, construction and operational stages of a wind or hydro development. The event will be held on Wednesday 10th October at North Highland College, Thurso. Attendees will form part of a register of local and regional businesses, areas of expertise and experience for companies interested in working in renewables for onshore projects with RWE NRL and its contractors. For more information and to book a place please see http://www.energynorth.co.uk/Events/-Meet-the-Buyer–event—Caithness.aspx

Tourism/ Food & Drink:
The Glasgow School of Art’s Centre for Design Innovation has been contracted by HIE to take forward the “Ambitious for Tourism Caithness & North Sutherland” programme, and this week representatives from the organisation met with Caithness Chamber of Commerce, North Highland Initiative and the Federation of Small Businesses to provide an update on their initial work over the summer and on their proposal to bring together a “cluster” group of tourism businesses.

Wick Airport was formally renamed “Wick-John O’Groats airport” this week at an event organised by Caithness Chamber of Commerce and Highlands & Islands Airports Ltd. Cllr Gail Ross carried out the official unveiling ceremony before an audience of local businesses and organisations. The move has attracted attention from a range of media reflecting the huge recognition of the John O’Groats name. Also this week there has been local coverage of a survey being carried out by colleagues at Dounreay to investigate what issues might be dissuading people from using Wick airport. This follows a recent survey by HIAL of those people who do currently use the airport.

Further cultural festival activity is planned for Caithness next month, in the shape of the annual “Light in the North” festival, held in Dunbeath as a celebration of the life and work of the famous 20th century author Neil M Gunn. As part of this year’s event Michael Russell MSP, himself a writer, will deliver a talk on Friday 9th November in Dunbeath Heritage Centre.

In a further boost to the area’s food & drink sector progress is being made with the construction of the new Wolfburn Distillery in Thurso. The Distillery, which is built close to the site of the original 19th century Wolfburn Distillery, will employ 3 people when it begins operating early next year.

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 winner of Caithness Chamber of Commerce’s “Innovation Challenge” – launched back in April by Rob Gibson MSP – was announced at last week’s Annual Dinner of Caithness Chamber. John Swinney MSP presented the award to Rachel Skene, who will receive £10,000 as well as a further £10,000 loan and business mentoring from Dounreay Managing Director Roger Hardy. The award was supported by the Babcock Dounreay Partnership and the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority.
  • Last week’s visits to Caithness by John Swinney MSP and Vince Cable MP are well covered in this week’s press. Mr Swinney’s visits to Caithness Renewables Ltd’s new office and to Reid’s of Thurso’s new production facility are covered at http://www.johnogroat-journal.co.uk/News/Swinneys-praise-for-02102012.htm whilst Mr Cable’s visits to Kongsberg, Dunbeath Engineering and Icetech is at http://www.johnogroat-journal.co.uk/News/Caithness-economy-ahead-of-rest-of-UK-says-Cable-04102012.htm