Weekly Update, 24th August

Energy & Business Services

I was able to help with a visit to Caithness this week by representatives from an Aberdeen-based multi-national energy company. I introduced the representatives to some local organisations, and it was particularly good to see immediate interest in practical opportunities to do business in the area. The visit was stimulated by the ongoing work being done by CNSRP partner Highlands and Islands Enterprise via Area Manager Roy Kirk and DSRL secondee June Love.

Caithness Rural Transport’s role in the ACTION (Alternative Community Transport in Our Neighbourhood) project is highlighted this week. The project, which has been made possible through funding from Scottish Government’s Local Energy Challenge Fund, will be led by CNSRP partner Highland Council. The project aims to develop a scalable model for sustainable rural transport. Thurso’s Denchi Power is also involved, and the project will be managed by Louise Smith of Caithness Renewables Ltd. The Highland-wide project also involves Transition Black Isle and Community Energy Scotland, and initial consultations on the feasibility of the project will begin in Caithness before moving out round the Highlands. The project is particularly keen to hear from people considering purchasing an electric car, and what might influence decisions. A link to the survey questions is at http://www.caithnessrenewables.co.uk/welcometoourservices.html The project is a great example of local businesses, communities and agencies working together to look at innovative energy solutions and more information is at http://www.highland.gov.uk/news/article/8878/communities_called_to_action_for_green_transport_project

Enabling Activities

The North Highland Regeneration Fund (NHRF) this week announced the launch of the “iStart Challenge”, a competition designed to encourage entrepreneurial spirit amongst young people in the area. The competition, which is aimed at young people aged 16-24 living in Caithness and North Sutherland, invites enterprising individuals or teams to come up with a great business idea to be in with a chance of winning a cash prize and support to develop their business. NHRF has been supported by CNSRP partner the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) and offers loan funding to local businesses. More information on the iStart Challenge is at http://www.nhrf.co.uk/Publications/istart-challenge

SSE Power Distribution has announced two events in Caithness next month to outline proposals for a high-voltage switching station to be located north of Wick. This consultation follows changes to the siting of previous options, and will address connections from the planned subsea cable from Shetland to the already progressing Caithness-Moray link. The two drop-in events will be held in Staxigoe Hall on Monday 14th September from 1.30-6.30pm and on Tuesday 15th September in Mackay’s Hotel Wick from 1.30-7.30pm More information is at http://news.ssepd.co.uk/news/all-articles/2015/08/she-transmission-to-seek-views-on-caithness-switching-station-site-options/

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:

  • Wick High School continues to draw welcome attention for its success in attracting students to technology subjects, and it was great to see the reception for teacher Chris Aitken and representatives from the student App-building teams when they presented their work and ideas at a meeting of Highland Council’s Education, Children & Adult Services Committee in Inverness this week.  http://www.highland.gov.uk/news/article/8885/wick_high_computing_success_bucks_national_trends
  • The NDA’s Chief Executive John Clark visited Caithness this week, and it was good to be invited to join other local stakeholders at Caithness Horizons to meet Mr Clark and the NDA’s site-facing team at Dounreay. I was delighted to have a chance with Trudy Morris of Caithness Chamber to speak to Mr Clark and highlight progress on our Programme and to flag up future opportunities for collaboration.
  • The “Energy North” supplement from Scottish Provincial Press was issued this week with all SPP titles in the Highlands, and I was delighted to contribute an article on current activities in the north. The supplement once again carries a range of very useful articles on projects such as the NDA Archive in Wick, Atlantis Resources’ MeyGen tidal project, and one of a series of articles from HIE’s Calum Davidson celebrating 50 years of HIE and its predecessor the Highlands & Islands Development Board. The latter body’s role in the 1960s in helping push for the locating of the Prototype Fast Reactor at Dounreay is also picked up in today’s (Friday’s) John O’Groat Journal.