Weekly update, 11th January 2016

Energy & Business Services:

Dounreay Trì Limited is proposing to demonstrate a floating offshore wind farm approximately 6 km NW of Dounreay. The proposal consists of two turbines, located on a single semi-submersible floating platform, with an installed capacity of between 8 to 16 megawatts (MW). It is proposed that a single export cable will bring the power to shore at, or near, Sandside Bay and will connect to an onshore substation and associated electrical infrastructure near Dounreay Substation. Orkney company Aquatera is carrying out Environmental Impact Assessments for the proposed project on behalf of Dounreay Trì Limited. Together with  project coordinator RES Offshore Aquatera will hold a drop-in session in Thurso to meet with key stakeholders and ensure that the proposals take account of the importance of the area for tourism and recreation, commercial fisheries and local industry and community interests. The event will be at Caithness Horizons, Thurso on Tuesday 2nd February from 10am-8pm. More details on the proposed project can be accessed at http://www.gov.scot/Topics/marine/Licensing/marine/scoping/DTFWDP

Beatrice Offshore Windfarm Ltd (BOWL) has advertised a pre-application consultation event in Wick in March in support of plans related to the onshore infrastructure at Wick Harbour for its proposed offshore windfarm development off the Caithness coast. The event will take place on Wednesday 16th March in Mackay’s Hotel, Wick, from 3pm-7pm. More information on the BOWL project at www.sse.com/beatrice It was great to meet Grahame Smith, General Secretary of the STUC, and Stephen Boyd, Assistant Secretary, during their visit to Caithness this week. Both have been long-term supporters of the economic transition of the area in the light of Dounreay decommissioning. I joined them with Thurso & Wick TUC members John Deighan and Derrick Milnes as well as June Love of Dounreay Stakeholder Group as they visited Wick Harbour. Willie Watt (Chairman of Wick Habrour Authority) and Shona Kirk (Seconded to WHA from CNSRP partner Cavendish Nuclear) updated them on the work to attract an operations and maintenance base for the BOWL project to Wick.

Tourism, Food & Drink:

Venture North has this week announced that it has been awarded funding from CNSRP partner NDA, VisitScotland’s Growth Fund and SSE to deliver an exciting “Venture North Discovery” series of short films promoting the north using strong themes such as surfing, dark skies, food & drink, the outdoors. http://mediacentre.visitscotland.org/pressreleases/why-it-s-worth-a-venture-north-1296643

Also this week it was good to catch up with David Whiteford, Chairman of the North Highland Initiative (NHI) to discuss current and future plans. The NHI has enjoyed huge success over the past year with its North Coast 500 brand, which has reached a global audience of hundreds of millions through coverage in international media, transforming the visibility of our area in the global tourism market. The NC500 website continues to promote the brand very well. http://www.northcoast500.com/home.aspx

Enabling Activities:

CNSRP partner Highland Council has begun a public consultation on its Caithness & Sutherland Local Development Plan, the consultation begins today (Friday 22nd) and ends on Friday 18th March at 12 noon. The documents can be viewed (and comments submitted via the Council’s consultation portal at http://consult.highland.gov.uk/portal  Next week is also the deadline for comments on the Highland-wide Local Development Plan’s Main Issues Report, which can be accessed via the same portal.

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:

  • Together with colleagues from the Dounreay Stakeholder Group I met this week with Fergus Ewing MSP, the Scottish Government Minister for Business, Energy & Tourism. We were able to brief the Minister on the work currently taking place to move the economy away from dependence on Dounreay-related work, whilst also highlighting the current value of decommissioning work to the area. We pointed to the 1,100 jobs that companies had committed to in the area between 2008 and 2015, as well as looking ahead to where a projected 1,600 additional jobs might come from between 2016 and 2030. During his visit to the area the Minister visited several sites, and met local business representatives. The Minister has kindly agreed to contribute the Foreword to the CNSRP Annual Review, which is due for publication in February.
  • The socio-economic subgroup of the Dounreay Stakeholder Group met this week, and heard updates on current and planned work from Dounreay partners DSRL, Cavendish Dounreay Partnership and the NDA. I presented my quarterly update on the CNSRP Programme, and members also heard from Scrabster Harbour Trust, North Highland College and Caithness Chamber of Commerce.