Weekly update, 16th February 2015

Enabling activities:

This week around 70 businesses and organisations took part in an event led by Caithness Chamber of Commerce. Entitled “Investing in Our Young People” the event focused on the recommendations coming out of the “Commission for Developing Young People” led by Sir Ian Wood and published last summer. Attendees at the event heard presentations from businesses, High Schools and North Highland College UHI on measures most likely to enhance employer engagement with schools and colleges. Scottish Government’s Hugh McAloon spoke of the desire to create regional networks of industry-led groups to take this forward. There was unanimous agreement that a proposal should be brought together based on North Highland College’s catchment area (Caithness & Sutherland) and that it would be best led by Caithness Chamber of Commerce. There is a clear desire to put this bid together in time to submit to the National Invest in Young People Group during the summer. The original report from Sir Ian Wood’s group is at http://www.gov.scot/Resource/0045/00451746.pdf

On a similar theme, CNSRP partner Highlands and Islands Enterprise has launched an online survey into the changing aspirations of young people and their attitudes to the Highlands and Islands. Aimed at young people of between 15-30 years of age, the survey can be taken at www.hie.co.uk/HaveYourSay and respondents can be entered into a draw to win one of five pairs of tickets to this year’s Belladrum Tartan Heart Festival. The data will help develop a picture of changes since a similar survey was undertaken in 2009.

The NDA has submitted a full planning application to Highland Council for the construction of its Nuclear Archive in Wick. As has been previously reported here, the project will house both the NDA’s civil nuclear archives, and will also become the new home of the Highland Council’s North Highland Archive. The project is on the Partnership’s High-Level Programme. You can view the documents and maps submitted at the Highland Council’s Planning Portal http://wam.highland.gov.uk/wam/applicationDetails.do?activeTab=documents&keyVal=NJ6ZXCIH7R000

The Board of Highlands & Islands Airports Ltd (HIAL) were in Wick this week for a Board meeting, and to meet local stakeholders. It was good to meet Managing Director Inglis Lyon and fellow Board members, along with key staff, and to talk about the continuing role of Wick John O’Groats Airport as an economic driver in the north. Development of Wick John O’Groats airport’s potential as a hub for the energy sector is one of the major projects on the CNSRP High-Level Programme, with HIAL as the project “owner”. It was good to hear from Andrew Bruce of Far North Aviation about the very productive working relationship with HIAL staff, and the success he has had in attracting further business to the airport. A short article in Scottish Energy News confirms last week’s information on the recent energy sector movements from Wick JOG to west of Shetland oil fields http://www.scottishenergynews.com/new-solan-oil-field-contract-leads-to-boom-in-energy-flights-from-wick-airport/ The Board’s meeting in Wick also confirmed key investments in enhanced apron space (£600,000) and new fire tenders (£700,000) http://ripassetseu.s3.amazonaws.com/www.hial.co.uk/_files/documents/feb_15/hia__1424337586_WIC_investment.pdf  

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 is great to see that progress continues to be made with the creation of a Caithness Flag, with the news this week that a panel hasbeen formed to oversee a competition to design the flag. Caithness will be the first mainland county in Scotland to formally adopt a flag, with the only other two flags representing Orkney and Shetland. The campaign was started by North of Scotland Newspapers, and has now been assisted by CNSRP Partner Highland Council, whose Caithness Wards Manager David Sutherland will help facilitate the competition. 
  • Homestart Caithness has been doing great work in the area since 1999, and has developed an enviable reputation as a social enterprise. This year Rosemary Smith of Homestart Caithness has been nominated in the Guardian newspaper’s UK-wide “Charity Trailblazer of the Year” award, one of only 5 nominees across the UK. You can vote for Rosemary at the following link – as of this morning (Friday) she is slightly ahead in the voting! http://www.theguardian.com/voluntary-sector-network/2015/feb/19/charity-trailblazer-of-the-year-the-shortlist