Weekly update, 6th May 2013

Energy/ Business Services:

Ignis Wick Ltd, the company behind the combined heat and power scheme in Wick, have announced a further expansion of the district heating system with the connection later this month of the Wick Assembly Rooms. This will allow the north’s largest public performance venue to be heated entirely from renewable energy, enabling its oil-fired boiler to be switched off. The Wick project, which has seen a £2.5M investment since Ignis took over in 2012, has been nominated by Energy Action Scotland as “project of the year” in the Renewable Energy Association’s annual awards.

The Thurso Cinema held an event this week to mark the establishment of its ground-breaking 4G digital cinema system. Senior representatives from Sony UK, cinema industry, suppliers and local stakeholders  attended, and Rob Arthur of Thurso Cinema outlined his vision of a network of such facilities, being administered from Thurso, creating further new jobs in addition to the 16 now employed. That approach supports the CNSRP view of this area’s potential to provide such remote business service jobs. During the event Rob Arthur was presented with the “Scottish Edge” award for entrepreneurship by HIE Chief Executive Alex Paterson.

Enabling Activities:

I continue to work with partners to address key issues relating to the development of skills for our current and future workforce. This week I held discussions with Maxine Garson of Highland Council regarding the potential use of the innovative “Bridges to Employment” programme for local High Schools. I also met Staff from Highland Council’s Employability team to discuss its current and planned work, and to prepare an update on progress with skills development to be given at the next meeting of the Caithness & Sutherland Area Committee of the Highland Council.

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:

  • This week’s meeting of the full Highland Council in Inverness heard an annual progress report on CNSRP, highlighting key projects and activities during 2012/13. The report was welcomed by Councillors: Local Members, Council Leader Drew Hendry and Planning & Development Committee Chairman Thomas Prag all highlighted the positive impact the Partnership approach is making, and spoke of the important work ahead. The report can be read at http://www.highland.gov.uk/NR/rdonlyres/8CBBAFA4-8A9B-4922-B893-974821C35C60/0/Item22HC1213.pdf The meeting was webcast, and an archived webcast will be available in the next few days at http://www.highland.public-i.tv/core/ 
  • Recent coverage has highlighted cameras made in Wick by Kongsberg Maritime being used to provide the first images in over 50 years from inside the Dounreay fast breeder reactor before it is decommissioned. The cameras are usually used in the oil & gas industry, but have been adapted for use in the high temperature environment in the reactor. As previously reported Kongsberg Maritime technology is also being utilised by marine renewables companies – around 60% of the world’s underwater cameras are manufactured in the Wick plant by Bill Baxter’s team.
  • The John O’Groat Journal talked this week to Scrabster Harbour Trust Chairman William Calder as the port prepares to welcome its first cruise ship of the season – 9 ships are expected this season, bringing around 3,000 visitors to the area.  http://www.johnogroat-journal.co.uk/News/Tourism-push-key-to-expanding-cruise-trade-at-Scrabster-09052013.htm