Weekly update, 12th January 2015

Energy & Business services:

Good to see in this week’s John O’Groat Journal that AGM Batteries – based at the Thurso Business Park – has been developing a partnership with academia to help ensure its workforce skills stay up to date and competitive. Warwick Manufacturing Group, the R&D facility for Warwick University, has been helping develop short courses for AGM staff. As previously covered here, the company shares premises at the Business Park with Denchi Power, and over the past 12 months both companies have been recruiting new staff to help service their mainly defence-sector related businesses, with advice and financial support from CNSRP partner Highlands and Islands Enterprise.

Tourism, Food & Drink:

Strathnaver Museum, which attracts funding from numerous bodies such as CNSRP partner Highland Council and the NDA/ DSRL-funded Caithness & North Sutherland Fund, continues to help progress the mobile App being developed in partnership with Venture North, following financial support to the latter organisation from CNSRP partner the NDA. http://us3.campaign-archive2.com/?u=e22ba5b6e5faf6c42ad071a07&id=2190abd20b&e=bd1ae1d280

One of the contributors to this week’s DSG Socio-economic subgroup meeting (see Communications below for details) was Sandy Mackie of Scrabster harbour Trust, and it is good to hear that Scrabster expects an increase in cruise ship passenger numbers this year as it continues to promote the port as an attractive cruise ship destination. Last year around 2,500 passengers visited the port, but this year’s programme could bring around 3,500 passengers.

Enabling activities:

I met today (Friday) with members of the Wick Harbour Authority (WHA) to continue discussions on how best to support the development of the harbour as a base for energy sector opportunities. This forms an important project in the CNSRP programme, and it was good to hear that the Harbour Authority is making good progress in developing options for infrastructure solutions, in discussion with key potential investors. CNSRP partners are working together to agree most appropriate ways of helping deliver key requirements at Wick harbour.

The Spirit of 2012 Trust (http://www.spiritof2012trust.org.uk/about-us/) is a Big Lottery Fund supported organisation that aims to promote community empowerment and wellbeing. It is working through Foundation Scotland to take forward legacy from the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games, and has identified Caithness as a community partner in its new “Fourteen” programme, which aims to encourage social action and volunteering, grassroots sports and physical activity, cultural activity and the arts and youth leadership. A fund will be established in Caithness to support this, and to gather views Foundation Scotland are holding two public meetings this month – at the Ross Institute, Halkirk on either 26th January at 7pm or on the 27th January at 9.30am

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:

  • The Dounreay Stakeholder Group’s Socio-economic Subgroup met this week, and I presented my regular written progress report to members. The meeting also discussed the socio-economic implications of the revised timescales for the Dounreay Decommissioning Programme, as well as discussing the future financial implications for local heritage groups from pressures on Highland Council budgets. It was also good to hear about the work commencing through Caithness Chamber to examine issues affecting young people arising from the Wood Report on oil & gas.