Weekly update, 10th March
Energy & Business Services:
Wick Harbour Authority is making progress with its plans to create a heavy-lift facility on the commercial quay at Wick harbour, with contractors Gunns Lybster Ltd having now begun the work. The project, and its associated dredging works, was supported by CNSRP partners HIE and NDA respectively and is the first of several proposed phases of work to position the harbour as a key player in the energy sector, with the current focus being on potential to benefit from the development of Offshore Wind in the Moray Firth. On that subject, the Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult (a technology innovation and knowledge centre) has this week published an economic impact assessment of the UK Offshore Wind and Marine energy sectors, highlighting the ongoing potential for both sectors to contribute to the economy over the coming years.
Tourism Food and Drink:
Caithness Chamber of Commerce is exhibiting at the “Best of Britain and Ireland” event in Birmingham this week, under the banner of its Invest Caithness initiative. The exhibition is seen as the premier trade show for UK tourism and business events. Invest Caithness tourism materials can be viewed here. Also this week it is good to see that VisitScotland’s £5.3M “Brilliant Moments” spring marketing campaign has a north interest, with a stay at Forss House Hotel (and admission to the Castle and Gardens of Mey) on offer. And as the first Festivals of the 2014 season appear, it is great to see that the Scottish Surf Kayak Championships will once again be held around Thurso from 19-20 April; that the Wild North Festival is to take place from 29th August to 7th September; that Strathnaver Museum has a series of events to mark the 200th anniversary of the Strathnaver Clearances. I have previously highlighted the Year of Ancient Ancestors Festival being coordinated by Caithness Horizons, with mini Festivals on Pictish Caithness (May) and Viking Caithness (July and October).
Scrabster Harbour Trust is also promoting the north, with Trust representatives heading to the Seatrade Miami Conference & Exhibition this month as part of the Cruise Scotland presence. The first cruise ship of the 2014 season is due in port this month, carrying up to 700 passengers. The Trust’s efforts to maximise economic benefit to the area will again be supported by funding from CNSRP partner Highland Council to run shuttle buses from Scrabster into Thurso town centre. It was also good to note coverage in today’s (Friday’s) local press of the Trust’s becoming the first port in the UK to have its entire staff recognised at NVQ level 2 in Port Operations. This achievement was supported by Caithness Chamber’s “Make The Right Connections” programme, which is funded by CNSRP partners the NDA, Skills Development Scotland, DSRL and the Scottish Government (through the ESF).
The area hosted a visit this week from another potential investor, part of the ongoing programme of inward investment being led by CNSRP partner HIE.
A reminder that next week sees the opening event of the Caithness International Science Festival with a public evening at Pulteneytown primary school in Wick on Tuesday 18th March at 6.30pm. The Festival is supported by CNSRP partners the NDA, Dounreay Site Restoration Ltd and the Scottish Government.
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 Dounreay Stakeholder Group had its quarterly meeting, at which my quarterly written progress report from January was discussed. The meeting also heard an update presentation on the Dounreay Decommissioning Programme from DSRL Managing Director Mark Rouse.
- The board of the North Highland Regeneration Fund met this week and reviewed its current list of clients, as well as considering how to maintain awareness of the support it makes available to businesses. The Fund was established with financial support from CNSRP partner the NDA and is managed by Caithness Chamber of Commerce.
- North Highland College UHI has announced that College Principal Dr Gordon Jenkins is to retire from his post at the end of this month. Gordon has been closely involved with CNSRP over the past four years, particularly as a member of the CNSRP Advisory Board, but has also served on the Board of Caithness Chamber of Commerce and on the Dounreay Stakeholder Group, so we wish him well in his retirement.