Weekly update, 3rd November

Energy & Business services:

SSE has this week agreed to sell part of its stake in the Beatrice Offshore Windfarm Ltd development to Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners (CIP). SSE will now own 50% of BOWL, with CIP owning 25% and Repsol continuing to own the remaining 25%. This is good news for the BOWL development, as it delivers one of the key prerequisites to progress identified by SSE in its March 2014 review of offshore wind developments. The project remains on course for a Final Investment Decision in 2016. In August this year BOWL publicly confirmed Wick Harbour as its preferred base for operations and maintenance work, in the event of a positive Investment Decision. More information is at http://sse.com/newsandviews/allarticles/2014/11/sse-secures-a-new-partner-for-beatrice-offshore-wind-farm-ltd-(bowl)/

Following a successful visit to Caithness last week by oil & gas companies HIE staff have this week held a number of follow-up discussions with oil & gas company representatives. This programme of business attraction continues to draw potentially exciting expressions of interest from companies.

Meygen’s tidal project at the Inner Sound of the Pentland Firth has scooped in international award this week. Meygen CEO Dan Pearson was in Nova Scotia to pick up the “Navigator” award at the International Conference on Ocean Energy. The award is in recognition of the project’s pioneering role in the global development of the marine renewables industry. The Conference, which was being held outside Europe for the first time, attracted around 650 delegates from 25 countries. As previously stated, work on the onshore aspects of the company’s first phase is expected to start before the end of this year.

The Environmental Research Institute in Thurso continues to work on a range of projects both in the local area and abroad. Most recently ERI has been trialling equipment being used in its international TURNKEY project. This EU-funded project (in partnership with bodies in Spain, France and Portugal) aims to help find ways of gathering data that helps marine renewable energy developments in difficult marine environments. One test period has taken place off the north coast, with another two planned for next spring (another off the north coast, and one in Portugal). More information on ERI’s activities is at http://www.eri.ac.uk/eri/resources/newsletters/newsletter_autumn2014.pdf 

Tourism, Food & Drink:

Last week’s Thurso Surf Festival has been judged a success, with UK Pro Surf Association members commenting very positively on the event and the local support received to stage it. As reported before, the event was sponsored by a number of organisations including CNSRP partner Highland Council. Short videos/ comments on the event are now available to view at http://vimeo.com/110954554 and http://themermaidsociety.com.au/uk-pro-tour-thurso-surf-festival-scotland-emily-williams/ with further information at the UK Pro Surf Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/UkProSurfAssociation

Enabling activities:

As reported last week, Highland Council’s Development Plan team will be holding a series of workshop this month in support of the 13 week consultation on the Main Issues Report for the Caithness & Sutherland Local Plan. This is an important document which will help set the direction for developments in the CAS Local Plan when it is published next year. Afternoon drop in sessions and evening workshops will be held at the following local venues: Caithness Horizons, Thurso, Tuesday 18th November; Ross Institute, Halkirk, Tuesday 25th; Town Hall, Wick, Wednesday 26th; Tongue Village Hall, Thursday 27th; Brora Community Centre, Tuesday 2nd December/ Monday 12th January. Copies of the Report are in every local Council Service Point, and full details on the events and the consultation process are at http://www.highland.gov.uk/casplan where you can also view/ download the Main Issues Report.Work is also continuing on the Highland-wide Local Development Plan, and tomorrow (Friday) I am contributing to a workshop on aspects of the plan dealing with business and enterprise.

The North Highland Regeneration Fun (NHRF) will be holding its 8th AGM this month. The Fund, which was established by CNSRP partner the NDA to support local businesses, will also be holding the Young Enterprise team awards, with the announcement of the winners from a “Dragons’ Den” style session that morning. Caithness Chamber of Commerce is the managing agent for the fund. Information on the Fund is at http://www.nhrf.co.uk/ More detail on the AGM events is at  http://caithnesschamber.com/events/north-highland-regeneration-fund-8th-annual-agm

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:

  • As work continues to develop our forward programme of partner activities Simon Middlemas (Cavendish Nuclear) and I will be working over the next two weeks with several representatives of major projects so that we can align our plans and agree common reporting methods. There are a number of public and private sector “owners” of projects that contribute to the economic transition process upon which we are embarked, so it is important that we can clearly express our plans and communicate progress.
  • Following my progress report to the Highland Council in Inverness last week it is great to see a Council press release highlighting the Members’ support for CNSRP’s work, and particularly good to have positive endorsements from Council Leader Cllr Drew Hendry and Caithness & Sutherland Area Committee chair Cllr Deirdre Mackay. http://www.highland.gov.uk/news/article/8112/support_for_caithness_and_north_sutherland_regeneration_partnership
  • Last week’s “Energy North” supplement from Scottish provincial Press is now available to view online at http://edition.pagesuite-professional.co.uk/launch.aspx?eid=f6f5c750-2fbb-470b-87a5-0e5115bcfb73 .
  • Good to see Thurso chef Robert Smith winning the UHI’s Young Highland Chef 2014 competition, which was held at North Highland College UHI’s training hotel at the Burghfield in Dornoch. Robert works at the Ulbster Arms in Halkirk, and wins a week’s work experience at the renowned 2 Michelin starred Roux family restaurant Le Gavroche in London. Judges included Albert Roux and Andrew Fairlie (Gleneagles Hotel). http://www.northhighland.uhi.ac.uk/news/thurso-chef-crowned-young-highland-chef-of-the-year