Weekly update, 21st September

Energy & Business Services

It is good to note this week’s coverage in the local press of the arrival of the cable-laying vessel “Siem Daya 1” in the Pentland Firth as part of Atlantis Resources Ltd’s MeyGen tidal project. Following the successful completion of directional drilling for the cables that will take power from the four Phase 1A devices to the onshore Power Conversion Unit at Ness of Quoys, the laying of the cables this week marks a further milestone for the project. The company has produced an Autumn project update, which can be viewed and downloaded at http://www.meygen.com/wp-content/uploads/Projec-Update-8pp-A4-reduced.pdf The update includes news on the onshore construction works, some of which has been undertaken by local contractor J Gunn & Sons, and progress with underground Grid connections from Ness of Quoys to a substation at Hastigrow. Scottish Hydro Electric Transmission (SHET), who are delivering the transmission line upgrades, has just published a useful online update on its activities. “Openlines” is an interactive magazine that highlights SHE Transmission’s role, and gives some useful examples of how it goes about its business, including its approach to the current construction programme for new substations and lines in the North of Scotland. http://news.ssepd.co.uk/news/all-articles/2015/09/she-transmission-launches-interactive-stakeholder-newsletter/

The Environmental Research Institute (ERI) this week held a final series of events to promote the key scientific outputs of the TURNKEY (Transforming Underutilised Natural Resource into Key Energy Yields) project. This is an EU transnational cooperation project funded through the Atlantic Areas Programme. Over the last 21 months, the ERI (as project lead) has been working with partners – Centro Technologico del Mar (CETMAR) in Spain; Instituto Superior Tecnico (IST) in Portugal and Ecole d’ Ingenieurs en Genie des Systems Industriels (EIGSI) in France. A final workshop focused on novel monitoring methodologies and provided an opportunity for participants to discuss marine energy resource requirements.

Marine Scotland announced the end of its consultation into the Marine Spatial Plan for the Pentland Firth & Orkney Waters. 31 responses were received and these can be viewed at https://consult.scotland.gov.uk/marine-scotland/pfowmarinespatialplan/consultation/published_select_respondent The responses will be used to recommend any changes to the Draft Plan, which will be published in Final version early next year. As previously reported, the pilot Plan aims to offer a strategic framework to guide marine development, activities and management decisions, whilst ensuring the quality of the marine environment is protected.

Enabling Activities

Caithness Chamber of Commerce this week launched its “Developing the Young Workforce” programme for Caithness & Sutherland. The programme has been supported by financial awards from CNSRP partners the NDA and Scottish Government, and seeks to support the implementation of a key aspect of the recommendations contained in the Wood Commission report into “Developing Scotland’s Young Workforce”. The Chamber’s programme aims to bring together employers and educational establishments to ensure our young workforce is developing the skills necessary to meet upcoming industry needs. http://news.scotland.gov.uk/News/Boost-for-Highland-young-workforce-1d78.aspx

CNSRP partner Highland Council is making progress with the Highland-wide Local Development Plan. A Main Issues Report has been published for consultation, which begins today (Friday) and runs until 18th December. The Report sets out a series of options for dealing with the main planning issues affecting the Highland area, and seeks people’s views on them. The Council is at the same time seeking comments on two other documents – the Draft Onshore Wind Energy Supplementary Guidance and the Highland Housing Strategy. All three documents can be viewed at http://www.highland.gov.uk/info/178/local_and_statutory_development_plans/199/highland-wide_local_development_plan where there is also a link to the Council’s new online consultation portal. You can also attend a workshop on the Plans in Wick on Monday 2nd November at either the new Council Offices in Market Place (2pm-5.30pm) or Wick Town Hall (6.30pm).

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 today (Friday) for its quarterly meeting which brings together a range of organisations from Caithness and North Sutherland to provide comment and advice on the CNSRP Programme. The key presentation was given by Gordon Doull, Vice Chairman of Wick Harbour Authority, who updated members on the exciting economic prospects that continue to draw closer as the Beatrice Offshore Windfarm Ltd (BOWL) project progresses toward a Final Investment Decision early next year. Members also welcomed the launch (see “Enabling Activities” above) of the new initiative led by Caithness Chamber, and the increased work taking place at Subsea 7’s Wester site. A short summary of the meeting will be issued.
  • Caithness Chamber of Commerce held its 43rd Annual Dinner and Awards Ceremony last weekend in Mackay’s Hotel, Wick. Last year’s Young Entrepreneur of the Year, Annie Body from Annie’s Bakery at Canisbay, gave an excellent account of what the award had meant to her, and the progress her business has made in the last year. This year’s Young Entrepreneur of the Year award went to Lee Gunn of North of Scotland Computers in Wick, and a second award, for best young business, went to Martin and Claire Murray of Dunnet Bay Distillery, whose business has seen dramatic growth in the past year.
  • The Dounreay Stakeholder Group met this week. This was the last DSG for Managing Director Mark Rouse, who is replaced by Phil Craig in October. The meeting heard a presentation on the NDA’s Draft Strategy, and also heard updates on socio-economics, including contributions from myself and Trudy Morris of Caithness Chamber. Mention was also made of the recent takeover of Crimson (the successful tenderer to become commercial partner at the NDA Archive facility in Wick when it is built) by Restore. I have been working with Anna MacConnell at the NDA to set up meetings with Crimson for local stakeholders so that we can continue to work with the company as they prepare to deliver this contract.