Weekly update, 11th November

Energy/ Business Services:

I met today with members of Wick Harbour Authority and representatives from Highland Council, HIE, NDA, Dounreay, Caithness Chamber to hear an update on exciting future plans for the harbour, and to discuss how support can be prioritised to help realise some of the plans. Of particular interest is the opportunity presented by the potential development of two Offshore Windfarm sites in the Moray Firth. WHA will present its plans to a public meeting in Wick tonight (Friday) at 7pm in Mackay’s Hotel, with the aim of gaining valuable feedback from members of the community and harbour users. http://www.johnogroat-journal.co.uk/News/Open-meeting-will-ask-public-for-ideas-on-Wick-Harbours-future-15112013.htm

Next Monday (18th November) will see the latest in a series of annual Information Days on the Pentland Firth & Orkney Waters wave and tidal programme. This free event will run from 4pm to 7pm in the Gallery Room of Caithness Horizons in Thurso and as with previous years will feature displays from key developers in the sector (Meygen, Scottish Power Renewables, SSE Renewables, Pelamis Wave Power) as well as organisations such as The Crown Estate, HIE, Highland Council, Skills Development Scotland, Caithness Chamber of Commerce, North Highland College, Interface, Scrabster Harbour Trust, Wick Harbour Authority. Further details of the day, and a welcome from Cllr Deirdre Mackay, Leader of Highland Council’s Caithness & Sutherland Area Committee, are at http://www.highland.gov.uk/yourcouncil/news/newsreleases/2013/November/2013-11-11-02.htm

This week’s Energy North Caithness members’ meeting took place in Thurso and heard updates from Energy North’s Angela Wilson and Alastair MacDonald from Dounreay on the Oil & Gas Taskforce set up recently to maximise the value of oil & gas work to the Highlands and Islands. I gave an update on CNSRP activities in support of the current and future energy sector in the north. In the following question and answer session we covered a range of issues including offshore marine energy, oil & gas and the visibility of the north in the marketplace.

Tourism Food & Drink:

Good to see that Timespan Heritage Centre in Helmsdale has been shortlisted for Creative Scotland’s “Creative Place 2014” award, in recognition of the range of exciting events brought together during 2013. This included the “Translocation” festival commemorating the 200th anniversary of the Kildonan Clearances. The final winner of the award should be known in January 2014.

Enabling Activities:

Great to see an event called “A Bright Future for Women in STEM” taking place at at the Pulteney Centre in Wick this week. The event, which is sponsored by WEA Scotland, attracted a number of high school pupils in S4,5 and 6 from Wick, Thurso and Golspie High Schools as well as women already in the workplace who might be interested in a career change into science, engineering or technology. Speakers at the event included Dyan Foss, Deputy MD at Dounreay, Alison McClure , Institute of Physics and Dr Elizabeth Masden, Environmental Research Institute.

Next week sees an interesting event from the Caithness branch of the British Science Association. “Drugs from the Deep” will feature Professor Marcel Jaspars, a fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry. Prof Jaspars has written and published numerous papers, in conjunction with other scientist from around the world, on the search and potential for new drugs and treatments for some of today’s most devastating illnesses, including cancer, from deep ocean biologicals. This presentation will be interesting at all levels, to the General Public, Scientists, Pharmacologists, Health Care Professionals, and High School Students with and interest in, or seeking a career in, chemistry. It takes place at the Castle of Mey Visitor Centre on Thursday 21st November – to book a free place and for further information contact john.dawes5@btinternet.com or http://www.caithness-science.org

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:

  • Keith Brown MSP, Scottish Government Minister for Transport and Veterans, was in Caithness this week to deliver an Institute of Directors lecture on leadership. Together with a number of colleagues I was able to meet the Minister at an HIE-supported meeting where we were able to discuss a number of transport and economy related projects and issues.
  •  A call has gone out for nominations for local people to take part in the Commonwealth Games Baton Relay when it arrives in Scotland next summer  http://www.johnogroat-journal.co.uk/News/Call-to-nominate-local-Commonwealth-Games-baton-bearers-15112013.htm