Weekly Update, 20th January 2014
Energy & Business Services:
HIE colleagues have returned to Aberdeen this week for a further series of meetings with companies and agencies. As previously reported interest in Caithness as a place from which to do business is strong, with new companies showing interest in energy sector opportunities.
Tourism, Food & Drink:
I brought colleagues from Visitscotland, Highland Council, HIE and Skills Development Scotland together with Dounreay socio-economic staff to look at our CNSRP Delivery Plan for 2014-17 in the context of tourism targets. We looked at the range of national, regional and area tourism plans and considered how CNSRP partners could best help draw these together on a local level to help grow the industry in the north.
Next week sees a public meeting in Thurso to discuss the potential for establishing a watersports centre in the town. Caithness Sports Facilities Ltd has been working on the proposal with a consultant, who has been carrying out an online survey to gauge support for the proposal – the public meeting is at the Pentland Hotel on Wednesday 29th January at 7pm. Last week saw large numbers turning out to view plans for a proposed transport & heritage museum in Halkirk. The open day was run by Halkirk Community Sports Ltd and the North Highland Initiative.
Fishing communities in the area are being encouraged to apply for funding available through the Highland Fisheries Local Action Group, which is managed by the Highland Council, and chaired by Cllr George Farlow, who also sits on the CNSRP Advisory Board. Recent awards include one to Mackay Underwater technology in Wick to help purchase an air compressor which will further strengthen the onshore infrastructure for leisure and fisheries scuba divers in the area. Also awarded funds is Lybster Heritage Trust, to support the preservation and display of a replica of a fishing yawl that was based in Lybster during the harbour’s 19th Century herring fishing heyday. The fund aims to help communities where fishing requires supporting measures to build skills and knowledge, and to help increase the capacity of local fishing communities and business networks through innovation, collaboration and diversification. More information is at http://www.highlandeff.org.uk
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:
- This week’s Caithness Courier carried the news that proposed changes to the Dounreay Decommissioning programme could mean that the expected drop in staff numbers in 2018 could be delayed “by a number of years”. Local reaction to the news has come from Davie Alexander on behalf of Dounreay Trades Unions, CNSRP Advisory Board members Derrick Milnes on behalf of Thurso & Wick Trades Council and David Flear on behalf of Dounreay Stakeholder Group and myself (not online). The Dounreay statement is at http://www.dounreay.com/news/2014-01-22/additional-work-may-mean-delay-in-dounreay-staff-rundown
- This week saw fresh coverage of a report by the Universities of Edinburgh and Oxford into the tidal power potential of the Pentland Firth. Reaction to the report came from myself and Trudy Morris, Chief Executive of Caithness Chamber of Commerce. http://www.johnogroat-journal.co.uk/News/Pentland-Firth-could-power-half-Scotlands-homes-22012014.htm This week also saw the publication of a European Commission Action Plan for Ocean Energy. The Action Plan is viewable at http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_IP-14-36_en.htm whilst Scottish Government reaction to this and the creation of the European Ocean Energy Forum is at http://news.scotland.gov.uk/News/European-Ocean-Energy-Forum-862.aspx