Weekly update, 11th May

Energy & Business Services

Encouraging progress continues to be made at the Forss Business & Technology Park, which is now being operated by Abbey Ecosse. The Park is currently supporting the work of Balfour Beatty in the north, and is about to become the north Highland base for a major onshore wind energy company. It was good to see Abbey Ecosse at All-Energy in Glasgow last week and to discuss the site’s forward plans with Neil Robertson.

The Crown Estate has produced an updated map showing all its current offshore project involvement in Scotland, including wave and tidal in the Pentland Firth and Offshore Wind in the Moray Firth. The map is at http://www.thecrownestate.co.uk/media/438873/ei-all-offshore-activity-scotland.pdf

Tourism, Food & Drink

As events around Scotland’s Year of Food & Drink continue Scottish Government has this week announced the start of a major funding programme for food & drink businesses. Through the Scottish Rural Development Programme (SRDP) businesses will be able to apply for funding from the Food Processing Marketing and Co-operation scheme. Initially applications will be for capital projects, with non-capital and co-operation applications opening later in the year. A Knowledge Transfer & Innovation scheme is also open for applications. More information on these schemes is at http://www.gov.scot/Topics/farmingrural/SRDP/SRDP20142020Schemes

The north appears on BBC TV’s Landward programme again tonight (Friday 15th ), following the programme focused on Caithness that was broadcast on 1st May. Tonight’s episode is due to feature the launch of the North Coast 500 route, and will focus on the Classic Car rally that began in Inverness last weekend. The programme will be available to view on BBC iPlayer.

Enabling activities:

It was good to take part this week in a meeting with staff from Highland Opportunity, Business Gateway, HIE and Caithness Chamber of Commerce to look at ways of working together to help businesses in the area secure benefits from international opportunities. HOL staff outlined the international network of support available through the Enterprise Europe Network, and the ongoing relationship with both HIE and the Chamber network in delivering practical benefits. Also highlighted were opportunities to ensure that area businesses are able to access opportunities through the Public Contracts Scotland website. More information is available at http://www.highland-opportunity.com/European-Trade-and-Information.htm

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:

  • Following last week’s General Election results Drew Hendry has announced that he is standing down as Councillor and Leader of the Highland Council to become a Member of Parliament for Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch & Strathspey. Drew was also Chairman of the CNSRP Advisory Board, so we will now seek a new Advisory Board Chairman.