Weekly update, 7th July

Energy & Business services:

News today (Friday) that Ofgem has approved the need to construct a subsea electricity cable from Caithness to Moray. This £1.2bn project will enable the transmission of electricity from renewables projects in the north. Ofgem had announced a consultation on Scottish Hydro Electric Transmission’s proposals, and submissions were made to the consultation by Highland Council and Dounreay Stakeholder Group. SHE Transmission has welcomed the news. The company expects the link to be built by 2018.

Also this week it was interesting to note the arrival in Invergordon of a huge Chinese heavy-lift vessel transporting concrete gravity bases to be used as part of the rollout of construction at Moray Offshore Renewables Ltd’s offshore windfarm development.

Tourism, Food & Drink:

Viking Caithness festival has been taking place this week in Thurso, as part of the year-long Year of Ancient Ancestors programme which has been funded by a range of bodies including CNSRP partner the Highland Council and the Scottish Government’s Homecoming Scotland. The glorious weather has helped attract considerable attention into the town centre of Thurso, where a Viking camp has been sited all week. The Viking Camp also formed part of the route of the Queen’s Baton Relay as it visited Thurso, followed by visits to John O’Groats, Wick, Helmsdale and Brora today.

Last week saw a further influx of visitors from the latest cruise ship to visit Scrabster harbour. The Minerva carried an estimated 400 passengers, some of whom were able to take advantage of the shuttle bus service into Thurso Town Centre provided by CNSRP partner the Highland Council. A further visit is expected later this month from the Gann.

Enabling activities:

It was great to see the announcement today that North Highland College will be working with CNSRP partners Skills Development Scotland and Dounreay Site Restoration Ltd to deliver an innovative advanced apprenticeship pilot scheme for engineering students, which reflects recommendations in the Commission for Developing Scotland’s Young Workforce.  The pilot will see a degree level course that combines higher levels of learning with the opportunity to apply the learning via hands-on work experience. The news was announced by Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon in advance of the Scottish Cabinet’s first visit to Wick next week. The idea was discussed and welcomed at the recent meeting of the CNSRP Advisory Board, and a summary of the discussions was covered in this week’s Caithness Courier. You can read the original CNSRP summary of the Advisory Board discussion 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:

  • It was good to catch up this week with Frances Gunn and Ronnie Lansley of CVS North. Frances represents CVS North on the CNSRP Advisory Board, and our discussions – accompanied by Fiona Mackenzie from Strathnaver Museum – covered a range of current projects taking place or being developed in north Sutherland.