Weekly update, 10th February 2014

Energy & Business Services:

As promised last week, further information on the consultation events that Pelamis Wave Power will be undertaking in the north next month as the company prepares to submit application to build a wave site at Farr Point in North Sutherland. Events will be held on Monday 24th March (Caithness Horizons, Thurso, 17.00-20.00); on Tuesday 25th March (Bettyhill Hall, 13.00-16.00 and Strathy Hall, 17.30-20.00) and on Wednesday 26th March (Durness Hall, 17.00-20.00). More info on the Pelamis plans can be found here or by emailing farrpoint@pelamiswave.com 

As part of the ongoing programme to attract inward investment to the area, HIE colleagues this week welcomed a representative from a prospective inward investor in the energy sector.

SSE has a business engagement event in Strathy Hall on Tuesday 26th February from 11am-3pm and to raise awareness of opportunities around the construction of the £109M Strathy North windfarm. Project staff from SSE and staff from the company’s “Open4business” tendering portal will be in attendance, along with the project’s main contractor. More information at http://www.sse.com/strathynorth/business

Enabling Activities:

The “Jobs and How To Get Them” event took place last Saturday at the Pulteney Centre, Wick. The event attracted over 300 attendees, and almost 40 exhibitors, as well as offering well-attended workshops on employability issues.  This was a great team effort, led by Caithness Chamber in partnership with Skills Development Scotland, Highland Council Employability Team, Dounreay Site Restoration Ltd and Job Centre Plus. Company and individual evaluation sheets are now being analysed so that we can plan for the shape of any future events. Photos of the event can be seen on the project’s Facebook page.

Caithness Chamber, working with HIE, is rolling out a series of Digital Engagement events in the area this month. The events are designed to allow businesses to find out more about current and future digital technologies, ands to explain how they may benefit businesses as the area prepares for the availability of super fast broadband. The events will be held on Tuesday 18th February at Seaview Hotel John O’ Groats (12.00-15.00) and the Norseman Hotel, Wick (16.00-19.00) and on Wednesday 19th February at Caithness Horizons, Thurso (12.30-15.30). For more information and to book a place please contact info@caithnesschamber.com or 01847 890076. The information is also on the Chamber’s web page

CNSRP partner HIE has launched a new scheme to support businesses. The “Innovate Your Business” service aims to help innovative companies grow their businesses through expert advice, support sessions and funding. More information is at http://www.hie.co.uk/business-support/innovation-r-d/innovate-your-business.html

Several representatives from the Wood Group visited Dounreay, North Highland College and local businesses this week as part of a knowledge exchange involving oil & gas and nuclear industry representatives. It was good to meet the Wood Group team and take part in discussions on issues common to oil & gas and nuclear sectors, as well as outlining the role of CNSRP.

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 Caithness & Sutherland Area Committee of the Highland Council met this week, and I delivered an update report on progress against CNSRP Delivery Plan targets for 2011-14. I had a range of questions from Councillors, who welcomed the progress being made, and particularly welcomed the fact that most of the jobs being reported by companies are new (as opposed to retained) jobs. My report immediately followed a report on the 2011 Census figures for settlements in the north.  It was noted that the population of Caithness & North Sutherland had increased between the 2001 and 2011 census reports,  and the link between population growth and economic opportunity was highlighted. My update paper can be found at http://www.highland.gov.uk/NR/rdonlyres/4205B066-AF9C-46B9-A778-6B72AC2FB71E/0/Item5CS0314.pdf and the webcast of the meeting is available to view here. Sound quality on the webcast is not great!
  • Another issue highlighted in the Area Committee’s discussions on the Census figures was the movement of population from Wick and Thurso to rural locations in the north, with consequent implications for rural transport. It is good to see therefore that Transport for Tongue continues to attract support for its services on the north coast of Sutherland – as the recipient of a Scottish Government “Enterprise Ready” grant.
  • Finally this week, it was good to hear that former CNSRP Advisory Board member and former Highland Councillor Ian Ross has been confirmed as the new Chairman of Scottish Natural Heritage. He takes over from Andrew Thin. http://www.northern-times.co.uk/News/Golspies-Ian-Ross-appointed-chairman-of-SNH-12022014.htm