Weekly update, 27th July

Energy & Business services:

It has been another good week for Wick Harbour. Following the recent news that Wick Harbour Authority had signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Moray Offshore Renewables Ltd, thus maintaining their position as a potential base for MORL’s offshore wind operations, this week has seen Beatrice Offshore Windfarm Ltd (BOWL) announce that Wick Harbour is the preferred location for its operations and maintenance base in support of its development off the Caithness coast. The news has been covered by local, regional and national media, and is all the more welcome for the positive endorsement of the Wick Harbour credentials from developer partners SSE Renewables and Repsol. The positioning of the harbour by Wick Harbour Authority chair Willie Watt and his Board as a base for renewables has been supported by CNSRP partners over the past few years – and in particular through financial support from NDA and HIE. As the Beatrice project heads towards final investment decisions, the prospect of a significant number of long-term jobs has come a step closer.

Aquamarine Power and Pelamis Wave Power have been testing their respective wave devices at the Billia Croo site in Orkney in recent years. Aquamarine Power has been carrying out a major summer refit of its Oyster 800 device. Caithness company Calder Engineering, one of several Caithness companies that has won work in the marine renewables sector, last year won the contract to carry out the extensive works to the device’s Cylinder Module, so it’s good to see the refurbished equipment being reinstalled.

Enabling activities:

Highland Opportunity Ltd (HOL) and Business Gateway have this week welcomed the availability of the “Start Up Loans” scheme, which will be available through Business Gateway, with assessments/ recommendations carried out by HOL. The scheme, initiated by the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills, is open to businesses that have either not yet started trading or have been trading for less than 12 months. HOL is the Enterprise Trust for the Highlands, and began life as CNSRP partner Highland Council’s business support delivery mechanism.

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:

  • Scottish Provincial Press’ “Energy North” Supplement was issued last week with all SPP newspapers in the Highlands, and is now available to view online. I contributed an article that focused on the first fruits of our efforts in inward investment in the energy sector with the recent opening of Process Safety Solutions’ new office in Wick. Also in the supplement are articles from HIE’s Gavin Mackay and SHE Transmission’s Dave McKay on the progress with electricity grid upgrades and the linked economic benefits.
  • The Duke of Rothesay officially opened North Highland College UHI’s centre of excellence for land-based subjects at Dale Farm near Halkirk. The centre brings together a number of the College’s successful disciplines including gamekeeping, equestrian and veterinary nursing.
  • Finally, we heard the very sad news this week that our former colleague Ian Hargrave had passed away. Ian, in his role as the Corporate Manager – North for Highland Council, was a key player in the early days of CNSRP, and was an influential member of both the Delivery Group and Advisory Board of the Partnership. He was also my line manager (and the source of considerable advice, support and encouragement) from early 2008 until his retirement in 2011.