Weekly update, 24th February

Energy & Business Services:

There have been some pieces of news this week relating to Atlantis Resources, the company that now owns tidal developer Meygen. It has been awarded €7.7M in EU funding through the 7th Framework Programme to support the design, installation and operation of its bigger 1.5MW tidal turbine the AR1500 at the Meygen site in the Inner Sound of the Pentland Firth. Atlantis has also just been admitted to the Alternative Investment Market of the London Stock Exchange, following a recent £12M public offering.  The company has also just signed a partnership agreement with Australian wave power developer Carnegie Wave Energy to help drive solutions that will lower generating costs for both tidal and wave devices. 

Continuing efforts to ensure that Offshore Wind developments in the Moray Firth gain support are contained in an article in today’s (Friday’s) John O’ Groat Journal. (not online).

Tourism Food and Drink:

Ground work is underway for the Rock Rose Gin distillery building in Dunnet. The company, Dunnet Bay Distillery Ltd, has received support from CNSRP partners HIE (via grant aid and advice) and NDA (via the NDA-established North Highland Regeneration Fund). Photos of progress at the distillery site can be viewed on the company’s Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/#!/rockrosegin/photos/a.217281941790723.1073741829.196403047211946/240925519426365/?type=1&theater

Enabling Activities:

I met with colleagues from HIE and NDA this week to review progress on a developing pipeline of projects related to the CNSRP Delivery Plan. This is part of our wider discussions aimed at identifying the most appropriate ways to support priority projects as they develop. Next week I will bring back together colleagues from VisitScotland, HIE, Highland Council and Skills Development Scotland as we continue to identify ways to support growth in the value of tourism to the area’s economy.

Caithness Chamber has completed a series of digital engagement events across the area, working with HIE. One of the opportunities for companies that has arisen through this process is having a “digital health check” for a business. This can be a 1 or 3 day programme to look at concrete actions to boost business/ reduce costs using digital means. To find out more, and to book a free no-obligation health check, see HIE’s Digital Support pages.

The latest newsletter from the Environmental Research Institute is now available to view here. It outlines the incredible range of local, national and international work that continues to be carried out by staff at the ERI in Thurso, and highlights the continuing academic and commercial profile being enjoyed by the Institute and the area.

Work started this week on the new £15M Primary School that will replace both Wick North and Hillhead Primary Schools. The first turf was cut at the site, with the new school set to open in August 2015. Work is also due to start soon on the campus that will incorporate a new Wick High School and Primary School. The total cost of the projects is around £54M.

The Caithness International Science Festival takes place from 18th-22nd March this year. More information on the Festival programme is here.

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:

  • I have been able to take part in sessions with team managers from the Highland Council’s new Development & Infrastructure Service over the past two weeks, culminating in a workshop this week to develop actions to help the new service which brings together a powerful range of teams under the Directorship of Stuart Black. I was able to outline the remit of CNSRP, and the opportunities for collaborative working to help boost the achievement of the Partnership’s targets.
  • Congratulations to Lynsey Macgregor of Lark & Lily Designs following her success this week as Wedding Accessories Supplier of the year at the Scottish Wedding Awards. It follows her success as Caithness Chamber’s Young Entrepreneur of the Year in 2012. Good to see new business start-ups doing well!
  • RenewableUK’s Wave & Tidal Conference in Belfast this week heard both UK Coalition and Opposition and Scottish Government support for the development of Marine Energy in the UK.