Weekly update, 14th October 2013

Energy/ Business Services:

I met today (Friday) with members of Gills Harbour Ltd for an update on the Board’s current activities, particularly related to the ongoing opportunities around tidal energy development in the Pentland Firth. Gills harbour is in a geographically strategic position, sited as it is between the two difficult tidal areas of the Merry Men of Mey and the Boars of Duncansby, and it was useful to hear of the discussions the Board is currently having with businesses and organisations as it focuses on how the harbour can help reduce risk and costs for the industry’s main developers.

Good to see further evidence of businesses from the area being nominated for awards. The Energy North Awards 2013 have shortlistings for Scrabster Harbour Trust (Best Oil & Gas Industry Supplier and Best Renewable Energy Supplier) and Caithness Renewables (Best Renewable Energy Supplier), whilst Caithness Renewables is an entrant in The Guardian newspaper’s Small Business Showcase. More on these at http://www.energynorth.co.uk/Home/Awards-2013/Shortlist-2013.aspx and http://www.theguardian.com/small-business-network/2013/oct/08/showcase-marketing-pr-caithness-renewables

Tourism Food & Drink:

Visitscotland and Caithness Horizons will be hosting an event for tourism businesses on Wednesday 23rd October at Caithness Horizons in Thurso. The event will focus on opportunities relating to major international events taking place in Scotland next year, and will feature speakers from Visitscotland’s digital and media teams. To book a place please contact laura.howarth@visitscotland.com or call 01463 244 169.

On a similar theme an event highlighting opportunities for businesses to benefit from tender opportunities relating to the Glasgow Commonwealth Games will be held in the Thistle Hotel, Inverness from 11.30am to 1.45pm on Friday 1st November. The event is open to businesses of all sizes, and attendees will be given information on the range of tenders available, as well as access to support on the tendering process. To register and for more information please see http://www.hie.co.uk/about-hie/events/archive/01-11-2013–50-million-worth-of-commonwealth-games-and-ryder-cup-contracts-available.html

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 first areas to be enabled as part of the rollout programme for superfast broadband in the Highlands & Islands were announced this week by HIE. Local press reaction focused on the timescales for Caithness sites to be enabled and I gave comments to a story that ran today (Friday) in the John O’Groat Journal (not online). Further information on roll-out plans is expected to be made available on a dedicated website at http://www.digitalscotland.org
  • The Caithness & North Sutherland Fund has announced its most recent list of awards to community organisations, with 10 groups awarded over £100,000 for a range of projects. The Fund was established by the NDA and Dounreay Site Restoration Ltd to distribute funding to community organisations for projects that will increase the attractiveness of Caithness & North Sutherland as a place to live, work and invest – with particular emphasis on achieving environment, social, culture and infrastructure improvements. The funding package was agreed as part of the development of a new disposal facility for low-level waste from decommissioning Dounreay, with NDA providing £4M to the fund – £1m at the start of construction in 2011 and £300,000 in 2014 and each year until 2023. http://www.cnsf.org.uk/2013/10/15/grant-awards-september-2013
  • I mentioned recently a major academic conference on the revolutionary impact of Airborne Laser (or LiDAR) scanning on archeological sites in Scotland, including many in Caithness. A major book on the subject has been published by Caithness-based Whittles Publishing. The company, owned and run by Keith Whittles, is a significant global publisher specialising in technical books, and has been supported in previous years by CNSRP partners NDA (through the North Highland Regeneration Fund) and HIE.  http://www.whittlespublishing.com/Airborne_and_Terrestrial_Laser_Scanning