Weekly update, 9th May

Energy & Business Services:

  • As previously covered in this update Atlantis Resources Ltd has now completed the acquisition of tidal energy assets from Scottish Power Renewables. http://renews.biz/102590/atlantis-seals-tidal-expansion/ I was delighted to meet Cameron Smith of ARL this week, and to take him to meet Scrabster Harbour Trust in a week that the port was very busy with large oil & gas industry vessels (see photo below).

Scrabster May 2016 20160512_135805

  • SHE Transmission reports this week that work on the Caithness-Moray project has reached its halfway point, with the expected arrival in Scrabster next week of two super grid transformers, which will travel by road to the new Thurso South substation currently under construction. As previously reported here staff from SHE Transmission and SSE gave an update presentation to CNSRP’s Advisory Board last December, where they estimated that around 700 workers will have been employed in the Caithness projects, with the cost of the Caithness elements of the project being over £400M.  http://news.ssepd.co.uk/news/all-articles/2016/05/north-transmission-line-upgrade-powers-past-the-half-way-mark/

Tourism, Food and Drink:

  • Reid’s of Caithness continues to attract welcome industry recognition, with confirmation at the weekend of its award as Wholesale Baker of the Year at the 2016 Scottish Baker of the Year awards in Glasgow. More on the awards at  http://scottishbakers.org/scottishbakeroftheyear

Enabling activities:

  • The recruitment process for staff for CNSRP partner the NDA’s Nuclear Archive in Wick began this week with an event in the Pulteney Centre in Wick. There was considerable interest in the range of employment opportunities available, and it was good to get a chance to talk to representatives from Restore, Key FM and others present to give further detail on the project.
  • Further to last week’s piece on the Fibre Broadband rollout programme in the Highlands and Islands, news this week that BT is seeking to recruit an additional 35 engineers throughout the area. Thurso and Bettyhill are two of the areas for which BT (through its BT Openreach business) is particularly keen to attract engineers. More info is at http://www.btplc.com/News/regions/#/pressreleases/bt-set-to-recruit-35-additional-engineers-in-the-highlands-and-islands-1398589
  • As mentioned last week, the learning opportunities for coming generations of the area’s workforce will be on show tomorrow (Saturday 14th) at North Highland College, which is running an “Engineering & Construction Taster Day” it its Engineering Technology & Energy Centre (ETEC) in Thurso. The open event will be from 10am til 2pm.
  • HITRANS, the regional transport authority for the Highlands and Islands, is currently undertaking a study on the feasibility of extending the Air Discount Scheme to cover all business trips. The ADS (which covers journeys booked from Wick John O’Groats Airport) currently applies only to non-business travel. Responses to the idea are encouraged from private sector businesses and the self-employed via a short online survey at https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/AirDiscountScheme
  • The Highland LEADER programme has opened for applications. LEADER is a well-established EU programme designed to help economic and community development projects in rural areas. The two Local Action Groups for the north (Caithness and Sutherland) have local development plans, which will guide their decisions on funding. More information on the programme is at www.highlandleader.com

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:

  • I was very flattered to be asked by Venture North, the group of tourism businesses promoting the north as a place to visit, to write the third in their series of “Venture North Discovery” blogs. The first blog in the series was from renowned musician Edwyn Collins, whose blog explored the Helmsdale family roots that led him north to build a state of the art recording studio in his home village. The second blog was from artist Lisa Weller, who relocated to Caithness to open her “Haven House” business near Wick. My blog went live this week on the VN website and social media feeds. You can read all three VN Discovery blogs at  http://www.venture-north.co.uk/blog?all and you can also view the first of the stunning VN Discovery films, which was launched in March, at https://vimeo.com/157219617