Weekly update, 28th April

Energy & Business Services:

Following last week’s encouraging news on support for the Beatrice offshore Windfarm project in the Moray Firth, it is good to see this week that developer Moray Offshore Renewables Ltd (MORL) has announced a “meet the buyer” event in Wick on Thursday 8th May. The event, held in association with CNSRP partner Highlands and Islands Enterprise and Scottish Enterprise, will feature presentations from lead partner EDPR and Tier 1 supply chain company Global Energy Group, as well as offering businesses the opportunity for one-to-one discussions. As previously outlined in these updates, there is real potential for operations and maintenance work on Moray Firth offshore wind projects to be carried out from our area, with Wick harbour in particular being an attractive option. More information and booking details for the event are here.

The Highland Council’s North Planning Applications Committee met this week, and Members approved the recommendations in the decision report on Scrabster Harbour Trust’s application to develop a business/ industrial park on land near Scrabster Farm. The Trust will now be able to move forward with developing the funding package required to service the site, which has been designated an Enterprise Area, helping attract further business interest from the energy sector.

Marine Scotland, Highland Council and Orkney Islands Council have been working on a Marine Spatial Plan for the Pentland Firth & Orkney Waters area. Several stages of work have been progressed over the last 3 years, the latest milestone being the publication of a consultation report which details how the results of the widespread consultation with communities, businesses and organisations in the area will be taken forward in production of the final plan.

Other sectors:

North Highland College UHI students and tutor George Gunn have been filming a series of short films scripted by students on the College’s Creative Writing course. The “Seven Roads to the Far North” project is funded by the College, and takes place with the support of Caithness Film Production company Big Box Network which has already successfully shot short films in Caithness. Talking to George Gunn about the project he was delighted that it has also benefited from the College’s relationship with Thurso Cinema: the finished short films will be given a premiere at the Cinema in June. The wider hope is that the project can also be used to help promote a range of film locations in the area.

Enabling Activities:

I mentioned last week that WickHigh School’s Risky Business team won two awards in the Young Enterprise Scotland regional final in Inverness (Best Managing Director and Best Presentation). The overall winners of the competition were also from the north – Farr High Schools “My Wee Highland Hame” team who have set up a business making and selling doll’s houses. Teams from Farr and Wick have been benefiting from advice from Caithness Chamber, DSRL and Highland Opportunity.

The Board of the North Highland Regeneration Fund (NHRF) met this week. The Fund, which was established with financial support from CNSRP partner the NDA, is preparing to launch later this month its forward plans for investing in local companies to support growth.

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:

  • This week I met senior Unite Trade Union official Kevin Coyne, who was in Caithness with Tom Greatrex MP on a fact-finding visit to the area. They spent time at Dounreay, as well as visiting ScrabsterHarbour and WickHarbour. I was able to talk to them with June Love of HIE and John Deighan of Unite about the CNSRP programme and highlight some of the progress being made. It was good to hear the positive comments about the ongoing work made by the visitors following their visit. Thanks to John Deighan and Davie Alexander of Unite for arranging the opportunity.
  • This month’s Energy North supplement from Scottish Provincial Press was issued with local press last Friday, with stories on Wick JOG airport, Beatrice Offshore Windfarm and Scrabster Harbour Trust.
  • Scottish Government this week announced four new Board members for Highlands and Islands Enterprise, and it was good to see that one of the new appointees is former Highland Council Chief Executive and CNSRP Executive Board member Alistair Dodds.