Weekly Update, 10th June 2013

Energy/ Business Services:

The Highland Council’s North Planning Applications Committee will next week consider a report on the Beatrice Offshore Windfarm Ltd’s application to Marine Scotland to build at a site in the Moray Firth. Members of the committee will be asked to endorse the recommendation that the Council raises no objection to the development, subject to a number of conditions, including one ensuring that the developer continues dialogue with supply chain and ports, specifically mentioning Wick harbour as a potential operation and maintenance base. CNSRP partners are currently working with Wick Harbour Authority on its plans relating onshore enabling developments. Developers currently estimate that if granted consent construction would take five years. More info from the Committee agenda (item 6.3) at http://www.highland.gov.uk/yourcouncil/committees/npac-comms/2013-06-18-npac-ag.htm

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 Partnership’s Executive and Advisory Boards met this week in Wick. The Advisory Board – chaired by Cllr Drew Hendry, Leader of the Highland Council – brings together a range of local stakeholders including representatives from Community Councils, Trades Unions, Voluntary Sector, Chamber of Commerce, North Highland College, Highlands & Islands Airports, harbours and JobCentre Plus as well as MP, MSP and Highland Councillors. The Executive Board – chaired by Sir Anthony Cleaver – brings together the Chief Executives of Highland Council and HIE; senior regional heads from Skills Development Scotland and the NDA; Chairman of DSRL and a senior official from the Scottish Government. During a joint session the two Boards discussed several issues, including progress with key enabling activities such as Berriedale Braes; local ports development and the roll-out of Superfast Broadband connectivity in the area. Advisory Board members had already discussed ongoing communication of key messages relating to the programme of work being pursued by partners, and the future shape of Partnership efforts beyond the current 2011-14 Delivery Plan period. At its subsequent meeting the Partnership’s Executive Board agreed to take forward discussions on these issues.
  • The Director, Chair and several members of the Highland Council’s Planning, Environment & Development Committee were in Caithness this week to meet senior managers at Dounreay Site Restoration Ltd and the NDA, and to visit the Natural Retreats development at John O’Groats. I accompanied members on the visits, which were a very productive opportunity to highlight the range of activity going on at both sites.  The scale of the challenge and the quality of work at Dounreay was highlighted by DSRL Managing Director Mark Rouse, and Members were also able to see for themselves the quality of the accommodation and facilities at the John O’Groats development, and to see the final elements of work going on in the soon-to-be-opened Inn at John O’Groats.
  • Tonight (Wednesday) I am giving a presentation to members of the Dounreay Stakeholder Group. It will focus on the progress being made with key enabling projects, and on how local companies have committed to growth over the past five years.
  • The Caithness Courier carries a piece on the event held in London last week to raise awareness of business opportunities in Caithness/ North Sutherland. The event was sponsored by Babcock International with support from Highland Council and HIE.
  • Great to hear that Louise Tait, a second year student from Wick High School, has won a national engineering competition sponsored by the Weir Group. I’m told that Louise was one of the students who attended the Wave & Tidal Information Day held by partners in Thurso last November. Her presentation for the competition focused on Scottish engineering achievements, but also on future potential, particularly from renewable energy. As a result of her success Wick High School receives £4,000.  http://www.highland.gov.uk/yourcouncil/news/newsreleases/2013/June/2013-06-07-03.htm