Weekly update, 9th September 2013

Energy/ Business Services:

Providing further evidence of the area’s continuing importance to the development of the oil & gas industry, Subsea 7 is investing £5.5M in expanded facilities at its Wester pipeline bundle site near Wick. Users of the road from Wick to Castletown will have noticed the first phase of this work near Bower, at the north-west end of the company’s 7.8km track. A second phase of work is due for completion next year as the Wester facility under General Manager Willie Watt continues to attract business. More information at http://www.oilvoice.com/n/Subsea_7_pound55m_bundle_fabrication_site_refurbishment/88ba6c12686f.aspx

As mentioned in last week’s update a group of local businesses and organisations recently visited Lowestoft to learn about its role as operations base for the Greater Gabbard offshore wind site. The visit was supported by Highlands and Islands Enterprise following discussions with senior representatives of SSE who attended a CNSRP event in London earlier in the summer, and the visit took place as Wick Harbour in particular continues to position itself as the prime location for the offshore wind developments proposed for the Moray Firth. More information at http://www.hie.co.uk/about-hie/news-and-media/archive/wick-businesses-see-benefits-of-offshore-wind-operations.html

The Scottish Renewables Marine Conference takes place in Inverness next week. HIE Chief Executive Alex Paterson and Cllr Drew Hendry, Leader of the Highland Council will welcome delegates to the event’s sessions, and there will be a Ministerial Address from Scottish Government Energy Minister Fergus Ewing MSP. The two-day Conference and exhibition – whose headline sponsor is HIE – will attract delegates from throughout the wave and tidal industry, and will feature key sessions on Grid connectivity; Licensing, Consenting & the Environment; Projects & Technologies; Manufacturing & Infrastructure; Electricity Market Reform and Finance.  I will have a place on the panel discussing Infrastructure & Manufacturing on the second day of the Conference. More information is at http://www.scottishrenewables.com/events/sr-marine-conference-exhibition-dinner-2013/programme/

Tourism Food & Drink:

Tomorrow (Saturday) sees the official opening of the “Inn at John O’Groats” – the latest phase of work at the Natural Retreats complex. The eye-catching redevelopment of the former hotel building will bring with it luxury self catering apartments to add to the luxury Lodges opened last year. The project was supported by HIE funding of £1.8M

Scottish Government has announced funding of £1.2M for the Community Food Fund, which will support applications from producer groups, networks and community organisations aiming to develop food trails/ networks and develop local events that promote food and drink. The deadline for applications is Thursday 3rd October. More information is at http://www.communityfoodfund.co.uk

Enabling activities:

The project board for the “Make The Right Connections” skills transition project met today Friday, and heard encouraging reports on progress. The project is led by Caithness Chamber of Commerce, with financial support from the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority, DSRL, Skills Development Scotland and the European Social Fund.

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 Board meets next week to discuss progress with the CNSRP 2011-14 Delivery Plan, and to consider forward plans for 2014-17.
  • As the timetable for the roll-out of superfast broadband is being developed, Highlands and Islands Enterprise and Business Gateway continue to offer a series of fully-funded events and support options under the Digital Programme for businesses.  One-day or three-day Digital Health Checks are available from specialist IT advisors, as well as a programme of Digital Workshops and downloadable Business IT Guides. More information is available from hidigital@hient.co.uk or 08000 283211. Businesses can also speak to the HIE Area Office or Business Gateway office.