Weekly update, 15th June

Energy & Business Services

Good to meet representatives from SSE Power Distribution in Thurso this week as they undertook a final consultation on the proposed route for the new high voltage overhead line from a new substation at Thurso to a new substation at Philips Mains near Mey. The project has been the subject of three separate consultation phases since June 2011, and this phase shows how previous comments on the route have been taken into account before an application for consent is submitted to Highland Council this summer. Notable variations include the undergrounding of a section of the line near Thurso and changes to small sections of the route to address environmental concerns. If consent is granted construction should start in March 2017 for completion in June 2019. The information panels are available to view and feedback forms available to download from https://www.ssepd.co.uk/Gillsbay/ It is also worth noting that SSE’s Scottish Hydro Electric Transmission company is currently advertising for a Sites Supervisor for its Caithness projects – more information at http://www.totaljobs.com/JobSearch/JobDetails.aspxJobId=62750859&Keywords=&LTxt=Wick&Radius=10&distance=0.0&precision=2

Also great to hear that representatives from Beatrice Offshore Windfarm Ltd will have a presence at tomorrow’s (Saturday’s) annual Wick RNLI Open Day at Wick Harbour from 1pm to 5pm. As previously mentioned CNSRP partners have been supporting Wick Harbour Authority with their development plans for the harbour, with the opportunities from offshore wind being the most significant. There is further information on the Beatrice project at http://sse.com/whatwedo/ourprojectsandassets/renewables/beatrice/

Tourism, Food & Drink

The North Coast 500 website went live this week, bringing further attention to the area as visitors move around this summer. It is at www.northcoast500.com The project is being coordinated by the North Highland Initiative, who also launched the Musical Map of Caithness today at an event in Caithness Horizons. The project is the brainchild of renowned fiddle player Gordon Gunn with Caithness playwright and poet George Gunn, and creates music and words based on key landmarks in the area. The project complements the just-released heritage app by Venture North, which features a stunning array of information and imagery on the north, and is designed to be used by visitors on their journeys through the area. It is now available to download on Google Play Store and iTunes.

Enabling activities:

It was a real privilege to be able to present a prize to Wick High School App-building teams today, following their participation in the Regional Apps for Good competition this morning. The competition attracted primary and secondary school teams from Orkney to Arran: two teams from Wick pitched by video-conference from Caithness into the event in Inverness, which was sponsored by the Digital Scotland Business Excellence Partnership. Wick High School was awarded the overall Secondary School prize. The overall quality of ideas was very high from the primary and secondary schools in the competition. Remarkably, three Wick High School teams pitched separately to a panel of dragons in London yesterday in the UK Apps for Good final. Wick’s “One Click Politics” team won the Information category at the London event.

Caithness Chamber of Commerce this week launched its annual George Bruce Young Entrepreneur of the Year award. The competition, which is now in its 6th year, has done much to promote the breadth of young business talent in the north, with the winner being announced at the Chamber’s Annual Dinner in September. You can find out more about the award and download application forms at http://caithnesschamber.com/business-support/business-start-up/young-entrepreneur-2015

Scottish Government this week opened the consultation on the Marine Spatial Plan for the Pentland Firth & Orkney Waters. CNSRP has been involved in various earlier stages of this consultation and development process, so it is good to see it reaching this important public stage. Local consultation events are being held next month in Caithness Horizons, Thurso on 7th July and in Durness Village Hall on 9th July. Both events will be open from 1pm-8pm, with a presentation at 6.30pm. More information on the consultation is at  http://www.gov.scot/Topics/marine/seamanagement/regional/activity/pentlandorkney/Consultation

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 CNSRP Advisory Board met this week, and heard a presentation on progress with the Thurso Community Sports Hub. Members also discussed progress being made with the projects on the CNSRP Programme, welcoming my summary that companies have committed to over 200 jobs in the area since April last year. Members also welcomed recent funding commitments on other projects on the CNSRP Programme, such as the B876 road at Killimster Moss and also welcomed the ongoing discussions with Wick Harbour Authority on enabling actions at Wick harbour. Updates were also given on projects at Wick John O’Groats Airport and Scrabster harbour. We also discussed the increasingly productive work being coordinated across partners on the related themes of employability and talent attraction. Caithness Chamber is currently working with partners in support of its proposals for Investing in Young People.