Weekly update, 18th November

Energy/ Business Services:

This week saw the latest in a series of annual Information Days on the Pentland Firth & Orkney Waters wave and tidal programme. The event brought together staff and displays from key developers in the sector (Meygen, SSE Renewables/ Open Hydro, Pelamis Wave Power) as well as organisations such as The Crown Estate, HIE, Highland Council, Skills Development Scotland, Caithness Chamber of Commerce, Interface, Scrabster Harbour Trust, Wick Harbour Authority and the Moray Firth/ North Coast Inshore Fisheries Group. Meygen’s recent acquisition by Atlantis Resource Corporation (previously a 10% shareholder in the company) is covered in a good piece in the recent online edition of Tidal Today at http://social.tidaltoday.com/technology-engineering/pentland-firth-building-multi-array-dream?utm_source=e-brief2011&utm_medium=email&utm_content=2011&utm_campaign=Tidal

Working this week with colleagues from HIE’s Area Team to put finishing touches to a detailed proposition document for a potential inward investor. Work has also progressed this week on three inward investment events being held in Aberdeen and London next month. Partnership sponsorship of a Scottish Council for Development and Industry event with Scottish Government Energy Minister Fergus Ewing MSP will be followed by a business breakfast event in Aberdeen and a business reception in Westminster being hosted by John Thurso MP. A further event in the Scottish Parliament in February is being planned in association with Rob Gibson MSP. Targeted invitations will ensure a receptive audience to hear about the opportunities for doing business in and from Caithness/ North Sutherland.

The NDA held its Estate Supply Chain Awards in Manchester last week, and it was good to see Kongsberg Maritime Ltd winning the Innovation Award for its work on designing and manufacturing a high temperature CCTV system for remote use inside the hazardous environment of the Fast Reactor vessel at Dounreay. http://www.nda.gov.uk/stakeholders/newsletter/supply-chain-awards13-winneres.cfm

Enabling Activities:

Caithness Chamber of Commerce brought together a group of local businesses and stakeholders this week to meet with Stuart Robertson, HIE’s Director of Digital Highlands and Islands. The group heard an update on the rollout programme for superfast broadband, which indicated that preparatory work on Thurso and Wick exchanges is about to commence, with superfast broadband being enabled from early 2015. Other key exchanges such as Helmsdale and Melvich are also due to be enabled in 2015. The meeting also discussed current activities to ensure connectivity in specific areas such as John O’ Groats are addressed.

Next week sees the AGM of the North Highland Regeneration Fund, the loan fund established with support from the NDA. The AGM will be in the Large Lounge of the Pentland Hotel, Thurso, at 11am on Friday 29th November. Afterwards at 11.30am guest speakers Rob Arthur of Thurso Cinema and Andrew Mackay of Norseman and Castletown Hotels will talk about what inspired them to get involved in business. The event will finish with a presentation to the local students who participated in the “Dragon’s Den” style competition held earlier in the morning.

Also having its AGM next Friday will be the Caithness & North Sutherland Fund, which was set up to administer the community benefit fund from the construction/ operation of the Low-Level Waste facility at Dounreay. Set up by the NDA and DSRL the Fund is worth £4M over the lifetime of the facility, with an initial £1M in 2011 followed by £300,000 each year from 2014 to 2023. The Company’s board, under the chairmanship of John Henderson, has so far approved around £800,000 in funding to community organisations in the area for a range of projects. The AGM will be held at 2pm on Friday 29th November in Caithness Horizons, Thurso. More information on the Fund is available at

Scottish & Southern Energy this week launched its Highland-wide Sustainable Development Fund at an event in Bonar Bridge. The Fund – the first round of which is worth £1M – will be focused on community organisations and charities, and will have North Sutherland as one of its target areas. The Fund seeks to attract applications under themes of Employment Opportunity; Community Renewable Energy Schemes; and Enhancing the Natural & Built Environment. More information on the Fund at http://www.sse.com/sustainablefund

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 Delivery Group met this week to review and agree papers being discussed at next month’s CNSRP Executive Board meeting. Key discussions focused on jobs targets and associated enabling activities.
  •  At the kind invitation of Colin Chessor I delivered a presentation on the work of CNSRP to this week’s meeting of Thurso Rotary Club. This is part of a regular series of presentations I deliver to groups to update on progress with our plans.
  • Delighted to hear that Lynsey Macgregor of Lark & Lily Designs in Wick has been taking part in this week’s Business in the Parliament Conference held in partnership between The Scottish Government and The Scottish Parliament. You can read more about this event at http://www.businessintheparliament.org.uk/news.aspx