Weekly update, 5th May

Energy & Business Services:

Offshore wind developer Moray Offshore Renewables Ltd (MORL) held a “meet the buyer” event in Wick this week. The event, held in association with CNSRP partner Highlands and Islands Enterprise and Scottish Enterprise, featured 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.

Scottish Hydro Electric Transmission will also be holding a meet the buyer/ meet the employer event in Caithness this month – at North Highland College’s ETEC facility on Wednesday 14th May. Following development consent from Scottish Government the company is taking forward a £1.3Bn programme to invest in the electricity transmission network in the north. This will involve a new subsea and underground onshore HVDC cable, which will connect from a site at Spittal to a site near Keith in Moray. The event will allow local companies to meet SHE Transmission staff and main contractors to discuss opportunities likely to be available via the Open 4 Business portal, and for individuals interested in career and training opportunities to find out more. I have also helped agree a presence at the event from the local support agencies behind the recent Jobs & How To Get Them event. Registration for the event is here

Good to see a piece in the John O’Groat Journal highlighting the recent agreement of a strategic partnership between JGC Engineering Services and Aberdeen-based Optimus. The deal will offer both companies greater scope to bid for work in the energy sectors, and was welcomed by Scottish Government Energy Enterprise and Tourism Minister Fergus Ewing MSP.  

Enabling Activities:

Local High Schools continue to give cause for great optimism in the area’s future. Wick High School’s Chris Aitken approached us in January to help provide written expressions of support for an application to SSE’s Sustainability Fund for a joint initiative with MAKLab to develop a facility in Wick High school that will support and promote the creative use of digital fabrication technologies, and to develop a parallel mobile facility to be used in other schools in Caithness and North Sutherland. I provided some written views on how important the project could be in inspiring future generations in the area, and the Socio-economic subgroup of the Dounreay Stakeholder Group also provided a letter of support. It is fantastic to see that the application has been successful, and has this week been awarded £40,000 from the Fund.

Scrabster Harbour Trust’s second cruise ship of the season arrived this week amid glorious sunshine. The Voyager carried over 500 passengers, and CNSRP partner the Highland Council again funded a shuttle bus service from the port into Thurso for those passengers not participating in trips to attractions such as the Castle & Gardens of Mey.

In a related topic, Tourism Intelligence Scotland has some excellent guides and tips for developing an online business presence that will attract customers and visitors to an area. In recent discussions with Scrabster Harbour Trust and Venture North on these issues it has become clear that more and more businesses are recognising the importance of their digital “footprint”. CNSRP partner HIE offers digital workshops and Digital Health Checks to businesses.

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:

  • Together with David Flear, who chairs the Dounreay Stakeholder Group, I was delighted to be asked this week to give a presentation on the Partnership to a group of elected representatives from Hungary, who visited Caithness. The group, from an area of Hungary where the nuclear sector is important, visited Dounreay before heading south again.