Weekly update, 13th January 2014

Energy & Business Services:

There is further evidence of progress with the programme of upgrades to the electricity transmission network in the north with this week’s announcement that Scottish Hydro Electric Transmission has received final planning consent from Scottish Government for the reinforcement of the electricity transmission network between Caithness and Moray. This will involve a new overhead line between the new Dounreay sub-station and Mybster (on the Causeymire), as part of the wider £1.2bn programme, which includes a subsea link from the east coast of Caithness to the Moray coast. SSE’s press release is at http://news.sse.com/listing/2014/01/planning-consent-for-caithness-to-moray-line-welcomed and local reaction to the news is in “communications” below.

Also great to see that SSE and the Environmental Research Institute (ERI) in Thurso have announced that ERI will carry out water quality assessments for SSE Renewables in a commercial research partnership arrangement. The deal involves the employment of a full-time technician and £50,000 worth of new equipment at the ERI. The deal will also have the wider benefit of supporting ERI’s capabilities in peatlands research, further strengthening the organisation’s international reputation for research excellence. More information at http://news.sse.com/listing/2014/01/sse-forms-partnership-with-uhi-research-lab-at-north-highland-college/#.Utf_lLQwMaN

Tourism, Food & Drink:

Highland Council and the Think Local project will be running an event in Caithness Horizons in Thurso on Tuesday 21st January from 2-4pm. http://www.highland.gov.uk/yourcouncil/news/newsreleases/2014/January/2014-01-14-03.htm The project aims to foster closer working between local food producers and retailers/ buyers. The event will feature project staff and will be complemented by an online survey of producers, which is available at https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/Highland_Producers_Survey   In a further boost to the north’s food & drink sector, distillers Diageo yesterday (Thursday) announced an investment of £30M in Brora’s Clynelish Distillery, which will see production capacity doubled and a bio-energy facility installed to provide renewable power to the plant. http://www.northern-times.co.uk/News/30m-expansion-plans-for-Clynelish-Distillery-at-Brora-16012014.htm

Plans to deliver the ambitious “Flow to the Future” project received a boost this week with Highland Council’s North Planning Applications committee approving key projects around Forsinard, including a new observation tower and a new Field Centre. The multi-million pound project, which is coordinated by the Peatlands Partnership, was warmly welcomed by Cllr George Farlow, who also sits on the CNSRP Advisory Board. http://www.northern-times.co.uk/News/Go-ahead-for-splendid-RSPB-project-in-the-Flow-Country-15012014.htm

Enabling Activities:

Wick-based KP Technology, who manufacture state-of-the art research equipment and export to a range of countries, have an opening for a highly-motivated recent graduate to join their Research and Development team for a 9 month project. Further information is available from the ScotGrad (formerly known as Talent Scotland) website at http://www.scotgrad.co.uk/companies/k/kp-technology/placements/graduate-research-assistant-nkrxxsqyuz ScotGrad is supported by CNSRP partners HIE, Skills Development Scotland and Scottish Government as well as the Scottish Funding Council, AGCAS and the European Regional Development Fund. Highland Council has also announced a further round of graduate roles available within the Council, including one in Caithness, working within the Area Environmental Health team. More information on this and other opportunities at https://www.myjobscotland.gov.uk/fe/tpl_thehighlandcouncil.asp?s=4A515F4E5A565B1A&jobid=184052,4587022372&key=23523952&c=483559524056&pagestamp=seqahrnwkrynttfotu

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 Socio-economic subgroup of the Dounreay Stakeholder Group met this week, and I delivered my quarterly update on progress with the CNSRP Delivery Plan 2011-14. Members also discussed progress with Dounreay’s 2013/14 Socio-economic Plan, and its successor for the coming financial year.
  • The Board of the North Highland Regeneration Fund met this week. The Fund was set up with financial support from the NDA, and is managed by Caithness Chamber of Commerce on behalf of the NHRF. More information on the Fund is at http://www.nhrf.co.uk
  • Local reaction to SSE’s announcement that planning consent has been given by Scottish Government to works on electricity transmission network came from myself, Trudy Morris (Caithness Chamber of Commerce) Cllr Gail Ross (Civic Leader for Caithness) and Gavin Mackay (HIE Energy Team) http://www.johnogroat-journal.co.uk/News/12bn-plan-for-power-line-upgrade-welcomed-17012014.htm
  • Local coverage of Scottish Renewables’ report on rising job numbers in the renewable energy sector in Scotland includes an interview with Louise Smith of Caithness Renewables, which has grown from one to five employees in the past three years, with plans for two more this year. The company works locally, nationally and now internationally following recent agreements signed with a French company (not online). The original SR Report is at http://www.scottishrenewables.com/news/employment-renewables-sees-5-growth-one-year
  • Plans for the new primary school that will replace Wick North and Hillhead Primary Schools were approved this week. The new school will include a library, dining and sports facilities, a 3-classroom Additional Support Needs facility, 90-place nursery, sports pitches and multi-use games area. The new school will be open by August 2015. http://www.caithness-business.co.uk/article.php?id=4639