Weekly update, 14th January 2013

Energy:
The Crown Estate has this week announced that it will consider investing up to £20M in two wave or tidal stream projects. The investment will be in the construction of the projects, with each project involving multiple generation devices arranged in an array and with a total installed capacity of 3 megawatts or greater. The Crown Estate believes that by offering to invest alongside other interested parties it can help to catalyse investments by others. Developers are being invited to make expressions of interest about investment in their projects to The Crown Estate by Friday 15th February. To be eligible for investment, the projects must already have a TCE agreement for lease and have (or will soon have) statutory consents and grid connection agreements. Final decisions on capital investment are expected by March 2014. This is not a new leasing round and will not result in any new awards for seabed rights. Further information at   http://www.thecrownestate.co.uk/news-media/news/2013/looking-to-invest-in-wave-and-tidal-energy-arrays/

Business Services:
I met this week with a representative from AON Hewitt and heard encouraging news on progress with the development of new business opportunities at the pensions administration office at Forss since the company purchased it from Babcock last year.

Enabling Activities:
Caithness Chamber of Commerce continues to make progress with its “Make The Right Connections” programme, which is supported by NDA, DSRL and European Social Fund. I attended the programme’s Project Board meeting this week and heard positive news on the number of beneficiaries that have gone through the programme since its inception, as well as plans for the remaining period of the programme.

DSRL ran a Supply-Chain information event in Thurso this week, attracting over 80 attendees from a range of local, regional and national supply chain companies. DSRL staff outlined the likely range of contracts to be issued for tender over the next year, as well as an outline of the programme for the following two years.

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 Dounreay Stakeholder Group’s socio-economic subgroup met this week in Thurso. I delivered my quarterly update report, and there was a presentation from Tom Curry of Direct Rail Services Ltd on progress with railfreight opportunities from the new Georgemas depot.
  • The board of the North Highland Regeneration Fund met this week and I was invited as an observer. Caithness Chamber of Commerce is now the managing agent for the NHRF, which continues to offer loan funding to organisations in the north. More info at http://www.nhrf.co.uk.
  • The Natural Retreats development at John O’Groats is part of an in-depth article in the January 2013 edition of the Financial Times “How To Spend It” supplement. The article features background on Natural Retreats developments in the UK, Spain and America, focusing on the ethos of sustainability that underpins all of the company’s developments.