Weekly Update, 25th February 2013

Energy:
Meygen Ltd will be running a “Tier 2 Supply Chain” event on Tuesday 19th March. The event, which will be by invitation only, is aimed at potential suppliers to the company’s first 86MW phase of plans to install tidal devices in the Inner Sound of the Pentland Firth. The types of services being invited to apply to attend the event include craneage, heavy transport, onshore civil engineering/ construction, mechanical/ electrical/ instrument, industrial IT and computer, marine (eg support vessels and operators). Email expressions of interest to guy.newson@meygen.com

Also further good news this week for Meygen Ltd’s plans. The company has been announced, along with Marine Current Turbines’ Anglesey project in North Wales, as shared recipients of £20M from the Department of Energy & Climate Change’s “Marine Energy Array Demonstrator” scheme. The award will support Meygen’s work with device developer Andritz Hydro Hammerfest. Meygen Ltd is also working with device developer Atlantis Resources Corporation. More information on the announcement at https://www.gov.uk/government/news/20-million-boost-for-uk-marine-power

Also announced at the same time by UK Energy & Climate Change Minister Greg Barker MP was a £1.4M Energy Technologies Institute project with Pelamis Wave Power to boost the cost-effectiveness of wave power arrays in the UK. PWP is currently testing its devices at EMEC in Orkney, and is involved in several of the leased sites in the PFOW leasing round, including its Saltire Prize competition site at Farr Point off the Sutherland coast. Greg Barker MP, who visited Caithness last July to launch the Pentland Firth & Orkney Waters Marine Energy Park, also announced that a Memorandum of Understanding had been signed between the SW England and PFOW Marine Energy Parks. I gave CNSRP’s welcome for this news in today’s (Friday’s) John O’Groat Journal.

I met this week with colleagues from Highland Council Planning & Development service, Cllr Thomas Prag (Chairman of Planning & Development Committee) and the Chairman and Manager of Scrabster Harbour Trust to discuss the Trust’s ongoing programme of work to secure business from the energy sector.

Tourism, Food & Drink:
Amidst current discussions on the potential value to the north’s economy from “Dark Skies” tourism, a reminder of why the north has so much to offer from its night skies comes from this stunning online film, shot in Caithness by Maciej Winiarczyck of Caithness Astronomy Group, with timelapse shots of the night skies and Aurora displays.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qpMa-vNB9mo  (thanks to Andrew Mackay, Federation of Small Businesses and the Norseman Hotel, Wick for providing the link).

Enabling Activities:
The Wick and Thurso Charrettes completed their week of intensive work with report-back events on Tuesday and Wednesday evenings in each town. The Charrette team has produced a newsletter and “key themes” publication for each town, and these are available to view at the two dedicated wepages at http://www.highland.gov.uk/yourenvironment/planning/developmentplans/localplans/wickcharrette.htm and http://www.highland.gov.uk/yourenvironment/planning/developmentplans/localplans/thursocharrette.htm As mentioned last week I gave presentations on the Partnership’s activities and forward plans to both Charrettes, and at both I was encouraged to see the general support expressed for the direction being pursued by CNSRP in supporting a diverse economy, and in particular CNSRP’s focus on employment opportunities in the energy and business services sectors.

Dounreay Site Restoration Ltd led a workshop to help inform the coming year’s Dounreay Socio-economic Development Plan, allowing a nmuiber of stakeholders to input into the priority activities for 2013-14. I also met with representatives of Thurso & Wick Trades Council, Job Centre Plus and Highland Council’s Employability Team to discuss an approach to skills development.