Weekly update, 22nd June

Energy & Business Services

Following their attendance at last week’s Wick RNLI Open Day this week’s Caithness Courier carries a piece on the team from Beatrice Offshore Windfarm Ltd (BOWL), who took a stand at the event to promote the project. The representatives confirmed the work currently taking place in and around the harbour to assess conditions for a BOWL base near quayside and pontoons. As previously mentioned, the BOWL project is due to reach its final investment decision early next year. If it proceeds then the BOWL representatives suggested that work could begin within the next 12 months on plans that will see Wick harbour become the operations base for this major project, which is on the CNSRP Programme. CNSRP partners have been working to support Wick Harbour Authority (WHA), most recently with Cavendish Nuclear’s secondment of Shona Kirk to work with WHA.

Tourism Food & Drink

Dunnet Bay Distillers’ rapid progress continues to attract much attention and admiration, most recently with three separate nominations at the Highlands and Islands Food & Drink Awards 2015 (in the Best Drink, Best New Business and Best New Product categories). The company’s development has been supported by CNSRP partners HIE and NDA (through the North Highland Regeneration Fund). The NHRF website this week carries a good summary of the company’s progress to date and future plans http://www.nhrf.co.uk/News/archive/update-from-dunnet-bay-distillers NHRF managing agent Caithness Chamber has also continued to roll out its social media presence, establishing new Facebook and Twitter feeds for the NHRF.

Also in the running for awards are Reid’s of Caithness, who have been nominated in the 2015 Food & Drink Federation awards in the Exporter of the Year category. This is in recognition of the international successes the company have achieved in markets such as Europe and China. The winners will be announced in September in London. http://www.fdf.org.uk/fdf-awards.aspx

Enabling activities:

CNSRP partner the NDA this week announced the appointment of Crimson as the preferred bidder to become commercial partner to operate the NDA Nuclear Archive facility to be built in Wick. The facility, on land next to Wick John O’Groats Airport, will also house the Highland Council’s North Highland Archive. The appointment of the commercial partner is an important milestone for this project, and I welcomed its announcement this week in the Caithness Courier, along with Paul Monaghan MP and DSG Chairman David Flear. http://www.nda.gov.uk/2015/06/preferred-contractor-for-nda-nuclear-archive/

CNSRP partner Skills Development Scotland (SDS) this week announced Scottish Government funding of £10M for a new scheme to support companies willing to employ young people. The Employer Recruitment Incentive addresses some of the key recommendation of the major Developing Scotland’s Young Workforce report and will offer up to £4,000 to employers to help with the additional costs associated with employing a young person. Full details on how companies can apply will be announced next week. http://news.scotland.gov.uk/News/New-action-on-jobs-1a76.aspx

As the rollout of superfast broadband continues across the north, CNSRP partner Highland Council has this week been reminding businesses of an opportunity to apply for Broadband Connection Vouchers, which offer small and medium sized business up to £3,000 to help enhance their productivity through use of broadband connectivity. The scheme is funded as part of the UK Government’s Super-Connected Cities programme, and businesses can check eligibility to apply at https://www.connectionvouchers.co.uk/

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 last week, and a short press summary of the meeting is now available on the CNSRP website at http://www.cnsrp.org.uk/2015/06/24/cnsrp-advisory-board-june-2015-press-summary/
  • I provided a comment to today’s (Friday’s) John O’Groat Journal regarding a piece on the plans to enhance the A9 Trunk Road at Berriedale. The piece focuses on the potential to draw in funding from sources such as a proposed City Region Deal for Inverness and the Highland area to help plans progress further (not online).
  • NHS Highland, who have now joined the CNSRP Advisory Board, held a recent meeting to discuss plans for Caithness General Hospital. The meeting heard options for future models of care at the Hospital, which has well-publicised challenges. One future model could include patients travelling to CGH from other parts of the Highlands to receive treatment. More at http://www.nhshighland.scot.nhs.uk/News/Pages/Meetingconsidershospitaloptions.aspx And on that same note we’ve been delighted this week to hear that CNSRP’s Project Coordinator Lindsay Foord (seconded from Highland Council) this week gave birth to a baby boy in Caithness General. Rocco and Lindsay are both doing fine.