Weekly Update, 8th April 2013

Energy/ Business Services:

Students from North Highland College’s Engineering apprenticeship programme have just returned from a week in Orkney studying Marine Renewables Safety Training at Orkney College’s Maritime Studies department. The students (including some from Orkney) are based at Thurso’s state-of-the-art Engineering, Technology & Energy Centre (ETEC), but this tie-up allows students to add crucial maritime safety elements to their final qualification, bringing them closer to opportunities in the energy sector. It is also tangible evidence of the healthy partnership working between these two UHI Colleges. More information at http://www.northhighland.uhi.ac.uk/the-north-highland-college-uhi-engineering-apprentices-gain-maritime-qualifications

SSE this week announced that it has entered the final development stages of the subsea cable link between Caithness and Moray, the next phase of its programme to enable the export of power from the north via the national Grid, as it has submitted an application to Ofgem for regulatory consent for the investment. More information on this at http://www.sse.com/PressReleases2013/SHETransmissionCaithnessMoray/

I met this week with colleagues from Highland Council Planning service to discuss current progress with energy sector projects, and to review where best CNSRP partner support is needed. The area also hosted two visits from potential investors this week: one in the energy sector and one in the business services sector.

Forever Fuels, the company that has been developing a biomass project at Geiselittle just outside Thurso, will be holding two free events next month to raise awareness amongst businesses and residents of its wood pellet project. The events will be held at Caithness Horizons on 15th May, with afternoon (1.30pm) and early evening (5pm) sessions. More information on booking a place at http://woodpelletsthurso.eventbrite.co.uk/ and on Forever Fuels at http://www.forever-fuels.com

Tourism, Food & Drink:

The Federation of Small Businesses – in association with the Highlands and Islands Tourism Awards – will next week be running a free workshop on “How to make an award-winning application”. Being short-listed or winning awards is seen as a good way of increasing visibility, and increasing business. The event is sponsored by the Dounreay Communities Fund and will focus on what awards judges tend to look for in applications, and will give tips on presenting applications. It will be led by Marina Huggett of Tourism Excellence Consultancy and Catherine Bunn of the award-winning Highland Campervans company, and will be held on Tuesday 16th April in Thurso. To book a place contact Joan Campbell at stoneybraes@btinternet.com or 01641 531231.

On a similar theme, the Highlands & Islands Food & Drink awards are open for applications. Deadline for applications in a range of award categories is 3rd June. More information at http://www.hifoodanddrinkawards.com/index.asp

Enabling Activities:

I met with representatives of Thurso & Wick Trades Council, DSRL, Caithness Chamber of Commerce, Job Centre Plus and Highland Council Employability team to look at the potential for helping unemployed people/ “at risk” workers to secure work in the nuclear sector.

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: