Weekly update, 2nd December

Energy & Business Services:

Partnership representatives were once again in Aberdeen this week. A CNSRP-sponsored business influencers’ event was held in association with the Scottish Council for Development & Industry (SCDI), and attracted around 70 attendees, with key guest speaker Fergus Ewing MSP, the Scottish Government Minister for Energy, Enterprise & Tourism. The Minster kindly highlighted opportunities in our area, and a number of new contacts have been made. HIE colleagues also had follow-up meetings with existing key potential inward investors. A business breakfast event in Aberdeen next week will also maintain momentum on new business attraction. The programme of events is returning some serious interest, and has been supported by referrals from the network of Caithness Ambassadors.

Enabling Activities:

It was good to meet this week with Jeremy Evans, the Research and Enterprise Manager at Thurso’s Environmental Research Institute. Jeremy’s recent appointment comes as the ERI is involved in a number of international collaborative projects, such as the Bio-PAD (Bioenergy Proliferation and Deployment) project highlighted in today’s local press (not online). The ERI is also involved in the developing “Flows to the Future” project in the Caithness & Sutherland Peatlands, where the opportunities to build on our research expertise in carbon capture and storage are being developed. More about the ERI is at http://www.eri.ac.uk

The Caithness Transport Forum met today (Friday). The Forum brings together transport operators, ports and local stakeholders to consider a range of transport issues affecting the area’s economy. The Forum is managed by Caithness Chamber of Commerce with financial support from the Highland Council and DSRL. Discussion focused on current activity regarding Berriedale Brae, Scrabster and Wick Harbours.

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 CNSRP Advisory Board met this week, and I updated members on current activity, as well as providing an update on plans for CNSRP targets covering the 2014-17 period. Members also discussed current issues such as next generation broadband rollout – expressing support for any value that can be added by partners to connectivity in areas away from the main settlements of Wick and Thurso – and marketing of the area. The Advisory Board brings together a range of representatives including Highland Councillors, Voluntary Sector, Trades Unions, Caithness Chamber of Commerce, Highlands & Islands Airports Ltd, The Crown Estate, Scrabster Harbour Trust and Wick Harbour Authority. Its role is to comment on progress with the Partnership’s Delivery Plan and to provide advice where appropriate.