Weekly update, 9th and 16th November

Energy & Business Services:

Later this month there will be an event in Wick for local companies interested in opportunities in the offshore wind market. As a leading company in the development, construction and maintenance of offshore wind farms, DEME Group is preparing new projects and contracts in the rapidly expanding UK offshore wind market. To increase UK manufactured content supplied to offshore wind supply chains, the company will host supply chain events to give a clearer understanding of the scale and nature of future demand. For more details and to book a place at this event please see http://www.offshorewindscotland.org.uk/news-events/2015/november/geosea-supply-chain-events/ or contact ben.connelly@scotent.co.uk

Also in the offshore wind sector, UK Government Energy Minister Amber Rudd MP this week announced that there will be three further auctions for Offshore Wind developers by 2020, with the first of these due by the end of 2016. The commitment is dependent upon offshore wind industry meeting Government conditions on cost reduction. The announcement may give encouragement to Moray Offshore Renewables Ltd (MORL) whose application for a Contract for Difference” was unsuccessful in the last round held in February 2015. As mentioned here recently, MORL has attracted investment from the Chinese power company China Three Gorges Corporation. MORL is one of two companies with consent to develop offshore wind fields at sites in the Moray Firth. The other, Beatrice Offshore Windfarm Ltd (BOWL), received a CfD offer in February, and has publicly stated that Wick Harbour is its preferred location for an operation & maintenance base. A CfD is a contract between a low carbon electricity generator and the Low Carbon Contracts Company (LCCC), a UK government-owned company. A generator party (such as BOWL) to a CFD is paid the difference between the ‘strike price’ – a price for electricity reflecting the cost of investing in a particular low carbon technology – and the ‘reference price’– a measure of the average market price for electricity in the GB market.

Tourism Food & Drink:

Good to see the coverage in today’s John O’Groat Journal of the news that Reids of Caithness has won major contracts to supply its products to major companies such as Virgin Trains. The contract successes will mean new jobs at the company’s Thurso base.

Enabling Activities:

Last week saw the Annual General Meeting of the North Highland Regeneration Fund (NHRF), which was set up with support from CNSRP partner the NDA to provide loan funding to businesses in the Dounreay travel-to-work area. The AGM was preceded by an event recognising entrepreneurial activities of young people. The “iStart Challenge” has been run by North Highland College UHI with support from NHRF, and the event heard feedback from the panel of judges on the ideas pitched to them by young people. It was good to see the range of ideas being pitched to judges, and the level of work that had gone into their presentations. And on a similar theme it is good to see the recognition being given to the ongoing efforts of Wick High School, through Chris Aitken, to encourage students to look at opportunities in STEM-related areas. The fourth annual visit to Wick High School by Bob Schukai, Thomson Reuters’ Head of Advanced Product Innovation, from his base in Atlanta Georgia highlights the wider interest in what is happening in Wick. It is a testament to the Apps for Good programme’s impact that around 90 students took part in Bob Schukai’s visit.

Today saw the first meeting of the Regional Board of the Developing the Young Workforce initiative for North Highland. The initiative has been developed and is managed by Caithness Chamber of Commerce with financial assistance from CNSRP partners the Scottish Government and the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority. This initial meeting (with attendees taking part via teleconference in both Thurso and Golspie) agreed initial workstreams and looked at the roles and responsibilities of the Board and its likely working groups. The initiative will have a formal Ministerial launch next week in Sutherland.

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:

  • As mentioned in last week’s update New Wave Foods plan to open a seaweed processing operation at Wick Industrial Estate early next year, with the aim of becoming the leading Scottish processor of edible seaweed products. The company expects to create three full-time jobs initially, with the potential for a number of further jobs over the coming years. The first of those job opportunities – for a full-time Operations Manager – was being advertised locally, with a closing date of last Friday.
  • The area’s cultural heritage was celebrated again last weekend with the annual “Light in the North” event celebrating the life of 20th century Caithness author Neil M Gunn. As part of the event Caithness author George Gunn launched his new book on Caithness – “The Province of the Cat”. This followed his recent role in the launch of the public art commissioned by CNSRP partner HIE at John O’Groats. The creative industries sector in Caithness and Sutherland will have further opportunities to talk about opportunities next week at an event to be held in Thurso. Organised by CNSRP part HIE along with XpoNorth, the networking event will introduce opportunities to undertake training in animation via respected company King Rollo Films. More at http://xponorth.co.uk/news/do-you-want-to-work-in-animation