Weekly Update, 17th June 2013

Energy/ Business Services:

The Highland Council’s North Planning Applications Committee this week agreed not to raise any objections to Beatrice Offshore Windfarm Ltd (BOWL)’s application to Marine Scotland to build up to 277 turbines at a site in the Moray Firth. As reported last week this was 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 to progress its plans relating to onshore enabling developments. Developers currently estimate that if granted consent construction would take five years.  The Crown Estate has just published an “Offshore Wind Operational report 2013” which looks at progress to date in the UK industry: http://www.thecrownestate.co.uk/news-media/news/2013/report-shines-light-on-operational-uk-offshore-wind-farms and there is also a report on UK Offshore Wind operation & maintenance at http://www.thecrownestate.co.uk/media/418865/guide-to-uk-offshore-wind-operations-and-maintenance.pdf

Brian Nixon, Chief Executive of industry body Decom North Sea, was in Wick this week to outline current and future opportunities in the oil & gas decommissioning sector. His presentation focused on known decommissioning plans and on some of the likely “niche” opportunities that might be of interest to supply chain companies and ports. The event, run in conjunction with Caithness Chamber of Commerce, attracted a number of local companies. More on Decom North Sea at http://www.decomnorthsea.com/

Enabling activities:

Planning for the next “Jobs and How To Get Them” event started this week. The event will take place on 8th February 2014 in Wick, and will build on the successes of this year’s event, where over 30 organisations came together to support a wide range of people either seeking jobs or considering what future career opportunities might be available in the area.

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 CNSRP Delivery Group met this week to follow up on issues raised at the recent meetings of the Partnership’s Advisory and Executive Board. Focus is on continuing to drive progress with priority projects and to help develop the forward programme for the Partnership beyond 2014. We heard encouraging news on progress with supporting Wick Harbour Authority’s Phase 1 plans
  • Local reaction to this week’s decision by Highland Councillors not to raise objections to the BOWL application to Marine Scotland is at http://www.johnogroat-journal.co.uk/News/Backing-for-3bn-offshore-wind-farm-18062013.htm and http://www.pressandjournal.co.uk/Article.aspx/3284297
  • Wick Harbour Authority’s successful marina operation, established in 2009 with support from CNSRP partners, has had a further boost with the announcement of funding from the Highland Council administered European Fisheries Fund for the area. The funding will be used to expand the number of berths at the marina, which is now fully-occupied, and to provide information panels for visitors. http://www.highland.gov.uk/yourcouncil/news/newsreleases/2013/June/2013-06-17-01.htm
  • Good news reported this week in the John O’Groat Journal that Caithness firm Ashley Ann is due to expand its workforce by 20 people over the next 18 months, to meet demand from new markets. The company has been awarded a £120,000 grant by CNSRP partner HIE.
  • Finally, congratulations to Steve Barron, who was today appointed to the role of Chief Executive of Highland Council. Steve will succeed Alistair Dodds, who retires from his post next month.