Weekly update, 16th May

Energy & Business Services:

  • One of the main project focal points for partners over the past three years has been the potential to attract the operations and maintenance base for the Beatrice Offshore Wind development to Wick, and news this week that this moves ever closer with a piece in the RE News online feed regarding the Final Investment Decision for the project. http://renews.biz/102675/sse-to-unleash-beatrice/
  • Following this week’s movement of large transformers from Scrabster harbour to the new Thurso South electricity sub-station, this coming weekend will see JGC Engineering moving three very large support modules to Scrabster Harbour. The operation, which is to be carried out on Sunday by local partner Hugh Simpson Contractors, is to support the company’s delivery of its contract for Eon’s Rampion offshore windfarm development.

Tourism, Food and Drink:

  • Food & drink companies in the area continue to attract attention internationally, and Dunnet Bay Distillers were this week included in a list of the UK’s top 100 high growth start-ups. More information is at http://startups.co.uk/startups-100/2016/startups-100-2016/
  • And recognition for local tourism businesses is apparent too, with Mey House B&B attracting a Thistle Award nomination for most hospitable B&B in the VisitScotland awards. Today’s piece in the John O’Groat Journal on the business highlights the increasing influence on shoulder-period visits attributable to the impact of the North Coast 500 brand.

Enabling activities:

  • Good to catch up this week with representatives from KPMG, who were in the area to have discussions following on from oil & gas related research work the company recently completed for CNSRP partner Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE). This week the CNSRP Delivery Group met and considered next steps in following up the work done by KPMG.
  • CNSRP partners Skills Development Scotland and HIE – working with Education Scotland – have launched “Digital Xtra” as a means of promoting and encouraging the development of extra-curricular computing related projects in Scotland. The anticipated outcomes include improved perceptions of computing science as a subject and career choice. The deadline for applications to the fund is 12 noon on Friday 17th June. More background on the announcement is at https://www.skillsdevelopmentscotland.co.uk/news-events/2016/may/scotland-s-new-extracurricular-computing-fund-opens-for-applications/ In the north there is existing evidence of this approach in the work taking place in Wick High School, and it was good to see the most recent success of students in national competitions being mentioned in Westminster this week, with Paul Monaghan MP’s Early Day Motion of congratulations to the girls of Team Quanco.
  • HITRANS – the regional transport partnership for the Highlands and Islands – is currently consulting on a refreshed Regional Transport Strategy. You can see a main issues report that summarises key proposed areas for activity at  http://www.hitrans.org.uk/News/Story/182 and an online survey seeking comments can be accessed at https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/hitransRTSMIR

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:

  • HIE announced its year-end results this week. The agency reports that as a result of investments made during its 50th anniversary year of 2015/16 around 855 jobs are expected to be created or retained across the Highlands and Islands – 87 of these in Caithness and Sutherland area through companies such as Future Foods, Enerquip and JGC Engineering. Also of note during the year in the area is the early investigation of the feasibility of a satellite launch site in north Sutherland and the ongoing roll out of superfast broadband. Also good to note the mention by Area Manager Roy Kirk of HIE’s continued active role in CNSRP. http://www.hie.co.uk/about-hie/news-and-media/archive/hie-reports-successful-year-in-caithness-and-sutherland.html#sthash.ghZVuNcp.dpbs