Weekly Update, 23rd May

Energy & Business Services:

  • Following last week’s mention of the Beatrice offshore windfarm project, confirmation came this week that the project has reached a positive Final Investment Decision. This is great news for the north, with Wick being confirmed as the Operations and Maintenance base for the £2.6 Bn project, which will see up to 84 turbines built on a site around 13.5km from the Caithness coast. Local, regional and national reaction has been very positive (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-highlands-islands-36357539), and I was happy to provide reaction to the news for this week’s Caithness Courier. Work to construct the Operations and Maintenance base at Wick harbour will start this year. Separately a key contract for the project was also announced this week, with Subsea 7 and Seaway Heavy Lifting being awarded the engineering, procurement, construction and installation (EPCI) contract for the Beatrice turbine foundations and array cables. http://www.offshorewind.biz/2016/05/23/subsea-7-seaway-heavy-lifting-land-ten-figure-offshore-wind-contract/

Enabling activities:

  • Following the recent recruitment fair held by the partners who will be operating the NDA Archive complex in Wick, it was great this week to be invited by the NDA’s Anna MacConnell for a short tour of the site near the airport in Wick, in the company of NDA representatives and CNSRP Delivery Group members Simon Middlemas, Donald MacBeath and Trudy Morris. You can read Trudy’s reactions to the visit (along with her photos) at her excellent blog page https://ontheroadwiththechamberchief.wordpress.com/  The construction is making good progress, and it was very useful to be able to see the sheer scale of this major project.
  • North Highland College continues to respond to opportunities for preparing people for skilled work in the area, and it is good to note the 5 week “Engineering & Construction – Employability Essentials” course being staged once again in the College’s Thurso Campus. For further details and to apply, see https://www.northhighland.uhi.ac.uk/courses/engineering-and-construction-employability-essentials And on a similar subject, Caithness Chamber of Commerce held a joint event this week with staff from Thurso High School to promote awareness amongst local businesses of opportunities for work placements. There was an excellent turnout from businesses, and this format is also planned for use with Wick High School and Farr High School as part of the “Developing the Young Workforce” initiative being led by the Chamber with support from CNSRP partners the NDA and Scottish Government.
  • Following discussions with Highlands and Islands Airports Ltd (HIAL) and local stakeholders at the recent Wick John O’ Groats Airport Committee, it was good to talk with colleagues from HIE and HITRANS this week about how best to help bring together a better understanding of the impacts of the energy markets on flight connectivity through Wick. We’ll work with Caithness Chamber (who chair the Committee) to progress this.

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 latest issue of the Dounreay News magazine carries a report on the joint presentation given by myself and Simon Middlemas to an audience of Trade Union Safety Reps from Dounreay and Vulcan sites. The presentation highlighted what we believe to be an encouraging economic picture for the area over the next 10-15 years. Following this initial presentation we are now hoping to carry out a series of lunchtime presentations for Dounreay staff next month.  http://www.dounreay.com/UserFiles/File/Dounreay%20News/May_2016.pdf