Weekly update, 3rd March

Energy & Business Services:

It was good to hear this week’s announcement of new ownership and opportunities for AGM Batteries and ABSL Power Systems in Thurso. Under the new structure ABSL Power Systems will become Denchi Power Systems Ltd (named after Denchi House in Thurso, where both businesses are based). CNSRP partner HIE has worked to support both of the new investors.

Tourism Food and Drink:

CNSRP partners met this week to focus on priorities in the tourism sector: Colleagues from HIE, Highland Council, VisitScotland, Skills Development Scotland and Dounreay Site Restoration Ltd came together to look at how best our collective resources could support the growth of the value of tourism to the north’s economy in the coming years. This forms an important part of the Partnership’s 2014-17 Delivery Plan, the summary of which will go for final comment to the Partnership’s key Boards.

Good to get an update this week from Tina Irving on a range of activities currently being taken forward under the banners of the North Highland Way and Let’s Go North, including a potential exhibition at Scrabster ferry terminal later in the spring. More information is at www.letsgonorth.com

Enabling Activities:

I attended the meetings of both the Caithness Transport Forum and the Wick JOG Airport Consultative Committee in Wick this week. Both groupings are managed by the Caithness Chamber of Commerce, the former with financial support from CNSRP partners Highland Council and DSRL. The groupings bring together a range of users, providers and stakeholders in the transport and aviation sectors.

Around 60 delegates from across the UK gathered in Thurso this week for the “Research on Peatlands – Looking Forward” conference hosted by the Environmental Research Institute. The welcome address was given by Rob Gibson MSP, who highlighted opportunities for the Peatlands from a new £15M Scottish Government fund. As part of BBC’s online coverage of the event there is a feature entitled “10 Things You May Not Know About Peat”

SSE’s public event to raise awareness of opportunities for work through its Strathy onshore windfarm project attracted around 50 businesses last week, and SSE’s report on the event has comments from the Strathy & Armadale Community Council on local economic impacts already being felt.

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:

  • Following last week’s mention of progress being made with the building of a distillery at Dunnet, this week’s Caithness Courier carries news of support to Dunnet Bay Distillers from the North Highland Regeneration Fund, which was established with funding from CNSRP partner the NDA. (not online)
  • Also good to see that the very important role of community transport in the north continues to be acknowledged via funding support from Scottish Government’s Community Transport Vehicle Fund. The award of £18,000 will help with the purchase of a new vehicle for the service, which is managed by Caithness Voluntary Group.