Weekly update, 25th March 2013
HIE has announced the completion of the procurement of the major contract to roll out next generation broadband across the Highlands & Islands. The £146M contract was won by BT and was made possible with support from BDUK and Scottish Government. It offers a genuinely transformational opportunity for the area to compete on a global level in key sectors, and to empower communities through health, social care and enhanced access to a range of public services. Digital connectivity has been a key priority for the Partnership, and it was particularly pleasing to see the map of proposed new fibre routes showing coverage across the north (http://www.hie.co.uk/regional-information/digital-highlands-and-islands/next-generation-broadband/default.html) The news has been welcomed in local coverage at http://www.johnogroat-journal.co.uk/News/Far-north-to-cash-in-on-146m-broadband-upgrade-26032013.htm .
Several local stakeholders had the opportunity this week to meet with the NDA’s Head of Information Management for an update on progress with the National Nuclear Archive. It was encouraging to hear of the upcoming procurement of a commercial partner for the development, and to talk about how the procurement process itself could help support local socio-economic needs such as apprenticeships.
Miller Construction ran a very busy “meet the buyer” day this week, to inform local companies about opportunities arising from its forthcoming construction programme in the north, including the Wick schools project. Representatives from Highland Council’s Business Gateway and Employability teams were in attendance to offer support to companies, and to raise awareness of available skills.
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 Caithness & North Sutherland Fund has just announced the latest grants awarded to groups in the area. The Fund is operated by a company chaired by John Henderson, and was established with funding from the NDA. The fund will be worth £4M over the life of the low-level waste facilities at Dounreay. Over £142,000 of awards were made to eleven groups. Coverage of the awards is at http://www.northern-times.co.uk/News/Awards-for-Sutherland-groups-25032013.htm and http://community.caithness.org/article.php?id=3773 The next application deadline is the 25th April, and more information can be found at http://www.cnsf.org.uk
- The Peatlands Partnership has published its latest newsletter, which carries more detail on the ongoing “Flow To The Future” project. The Partnership has been consulting at public events this week, the last of which is today (Thursday 28th) at the Ross Institute, Halkirk, from 4pm-8pm. More at http://www.snh.gov.uk/publications-data-and-research/publications/search-the-catalogue/publication-detail/?id=1978
- The next round of the Scottish EDGE competition is open for applications, with a submission deadline of Tuesday 16th April. In the first round Thurso Cinema was a winner, receiving £50,000 to support its growth plans. More details on the competition and the application process at http://www.hie.co.uk/business-support/entrepreneurship/the-scottish-edge/apply-now.html
All the best
Eann Sinclair, Programme Manager, CNSRP