Weekly update, 16th September 2013

Energy/ Business Services:

The Scottish Renewables Marine Conference took place in Inverness this week. The event’s key announcement was the news of Scottish Government consent for Meygen Ltd to develop its proposed tidal stream site in the Inner Sound of the Pentland Firth. A demonstration array of up to 9MW will be the first phase of work, with up to 86MW by completion of the second phase. The news attracted major media coverage, and was widely welcomed as a milestone in the development of a commercial-scale tidal industry. See Communications below for some of the media reaction, including CNSRP welcome from Chairman Sir Anthony Cleaver.

Monday’s Conference also heard news that Scottish Power Renewables will be using Alstom-owned tidal technology in its Sound of Islay demonstration array. Alstom bought Tidal Generation Ltd (TGL) from Rolls Royce earlier this year. The Sound of Islay array is expected to be the precursor to a larger Scottish Power Renewables development at the Ness of Duncansby at the eastern end of the Pentland Firth.

As part of Highland Business Week events under the banner of HIE Skills Register will take place next Friday, 27th September in Thurso (Caithness Horizons, 10am-1pm) and Wick (Pulteney Centre, 2pm-5pm). The event is hosted by Tuminds Ltd, Arise UK, Citizens Online and GetIT Together Sutherland and will focus on how registering for the HIE Skills Register can help support inward investment opportunities for the area. Members of these partner organisations will be on hand to offer advice and guide attendees through the registration process.

Tourism Food & Drink:

Hundreds of people turned out last Saturday in bright sunshine for the official opening of the “Inn at John O’Groats” – the latest phase of work at the Natural Retreats complex. The project, led by Natural Retreats and Heritage GB, was supported by HIE funding of £1.8M. Lord Lieutenant Anne Dunnett cut the ribbon to open the new facility. The reaction from all of those who were able to look around the new apartments was extremely positive, and particular praise went to the quality of the building and its furnishings. It was also good to see the presence of a number of local food/ drink/ crafts businesses as part of the open day. Some photos of the interiors can be viewed at http://www.naturalretreats.co.uk/john-o-groats/the-inn-at-john-o-groats.php

Next week John O’Groats will also be the venue for the launch of the “World Host” training initiative being led in the north by Caithness Chamber of Commerce. World Host is an international brand, and was used very successfully to improve the overall customer/ visitor experience for the London Olympics. It is hoped that businesses in the north can lead the way for Scotland. More info at http://www.worldhost.uk.com and information on the Caithness/ North Sutherland initiative from skills@caithnesschamber.com

On the subject of customer satisfaction it is good to see the high quality offering at Forss House Hotel being recognised, as the business became one of the first in Scotland to be recognised under the new “Taste Our Best” quality assurance scheme being led by Scotland Food & Drink. http://www.scotlandfoodanddrink.org//news/article-info/4638/nhi-call-for-quality-as-thurso-hotel-awarded-under-new-scheme.aspx#.UjxRiMakr7c

Enabling activities:

Marine Scotland will be holding a consultation event at North Highland College in Thurso next week, on Wednesday 25th September. “Planning Scotland’s Seas” will feature a public drop-in session from 1pm-5pm, followed by a Marine Scotland presentation and Q&A session from 6pm-8pm. The event is part of a national consultation on the Draft national Marine Plan, on Marine Protected Areas, and on draft sectoral Plans (eg marine renewables). The consultation period ends on 13th November. More information at http://www.scotland.gov.uk/marineconsultation

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: