Weekly update, 8th December 2014

Energy & Business services:

The Partnership’s Advisory Board met this week, and members heard a presentation from Calum Davidson, Director of Energy & Low Carbon at CNSRP partner Highlands and Islands Enterprise, on a feasibility study currently taking place on the subject of a possible “Floating Wind Test & Demonstration centre” off the north coast of Caithness. Members also heard a brief update on work taking place to progress Wave Energy Scotland. This new body, announced by Scottish Government, will be delivered via Highlands and Islands Enterprise.

MeyGen, who will commence onshore ground works for its tidal energy site at Ness of Quoys near Gills Bay in January, will be holding public open days in Caithness next week. On Tuesday 16th December the MeyGen team will be at Mey Village Hall between 11am and 9pm, and on Wednesday 17th December they will be at Caithness Horizons in Thurso – also between 11am and 9pm. MeyGen has also issued its Decommissioning Programme for the tidal project at the Inner Sound of the Pentland Firth, as required by the Energy Act. The plan is open for comment until 19th December, and can be viewed at http://www.meygen.com/2014/11/notice/

Tourism, food & drink:

Great to see further success for Dunnet Bay Distillers Ltd, who were awarded £50,000 through the Scottish EDGE Fund this week. The Fund is supported by Sir Tom Hunter, Royal Bank of Scotland and Scottish Government with a board of public and private sector leaders, having originally been developed and operated by Scottish Enterprise and CNSRP partner Highlands and Islands Enterprise. This was round five of the Fund, with Thurso Cinema having been successful in round one. Find out more at http://www.scotedge.com/about/  As company Director Martin Murray told the audience at the launch of Venture North in Wick last week, Dunnet Bay Distillers had originally projected that they would produce and sell around 2-3,000 bottles of Rock Rose Gin during its first year of operation. So far in its first year around 8,000 bottles have been produced and sold!

Caithnesss Chamber of Commerce continues to make a success of its World Host training programme for area businesses. Since it began delivering the programme in Caithness exactly a year ago over 50 businesses have taken over 200 employees through courses, with an aim of Caithness becoming a “World Host destination”. World Host has now been taken forward on a national level with funding support announced this week from CNSRP partner Skills Development Scotland, with Caithness and Sutherland being one of the 11 key focal areas across Scotland. This will mean the Chamber is now also able to offer funded places to businesses in Sutherland. For more information on World Host please see http://www.worldhost.uk.com/news/minister-unveils-180k-customer-service-training-fund-for-scottish-smes

Enabling activities:

As mentioned above, the CNSRP Advisory Board met this week, and I gave an update presentation to members on the high-level programme that we have developed with support from Simon Middlemas, Cavendish Dounreay Partnership, and the owners of the series of major projects we have identified as priorities. These include Scrabster and Wick Harbours; Wick John O’ Groats Airport; particular pinch points on the A9 Trunk road at Berriedale and the B876 road at Killimster Moss; railhead logistics at Georgemas; North Highland College; Inward Investment; Cavendish Nuclear programme; and Superfast broadband. I will now take members’ comments on the plan to next week’s Executive Board meeting.

I attended this week’s Dounreay Stakeholder Group meeting, at which DSRL’s Managing Director and the NDA’s Head of Programme presented an outline of the revised decommissioning programme at Dounreay. The “interim end state” for the site is now likely to be in year 2029/30, and we look forward to receiving the revised staffing profiles for the site, so that we can build this into our own forward projections for the local labour market. DSRL has also this week published a very useful overview of the major contracts associated with various parts of the Dounreay Site, and the companies delivering them. It is hoped that this information will help supply chain companies identify areas of work (and key contractors) of interest to them. You can view the Supply Chain Mapping document at http://www.dounreay.com/news/2014-12-10/dsrl-publishes-supply-chain-mapping-information-online

The draft National Marine Plan has been laid before Scottish Parliament this week, following extensive consultations over the past four years. This important Plan sets out the priorities for managing the marine environment and includes economic assessment of pressures and human impacts on the marine environment. The Plan can be viewed at http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Resource/0046/00465865.pdf

Good to see HIE’s Creative Industries Strategy 2014-19 taking another step forward with this week’s announcement of £2.3M to support delivery. Next week we will hold local discussions with Creative Scotland colleagues, as well as creative industries representatives, to continue discussing plans to deliver local activities. You can find out more about the strategy and its delivery at http://www.hie.co.uk/growth-sectors/creative-industries/overview.html

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 previously mentioned, the NDA’s Nuclear Archive building is the subject of consultation at present. Following the public exhibition in Wick at the end of November there is still time to comment on the proposed design of the building. Lead architects GVA James Barr have made available copies of all the information panels from the exhibition, and these can be viewed on the CNSRP website at http://www.cnsrp.org.uk/downloads/ The consultation will run until Tuesday 16th December 2014, and any comments can be emailed to peter.carus@gvajb.co.uk
  • The Caithness & North Sutherland Fund (CNSF) held its 3rd AGM recently, and Chairman John Henderson was able to report a further £217,000 in grants awarded to 17 community organisations in the Dounreay Travel to Work Area. This means that since its inception almost £1M has now been awarded to projects with a total value of over £4.7M. The CNSF was set up by CNSRP partners the NDA and DSRL to administer a £4M benefit fund associated with the creation of Low Level Waste facilities at Dounreay. £1M was invested in 2011, with a further £300,000 each year from this financial year until 2023. More about the work of the CNSF and case studies on project awards can be found at http://www.cnsf.org.uk/