Weekly update, 4th July

Energy & Business Services:
• An interesting and innovative tie-up has been announced this week between tidal energy developer Atlantis Resources and onshore wind developer Wind Harvest. The deal will allow Wind Harvest’s 4-turbine Lochend development in Caithness to share access to the recently-connected Ness of Quoys distribution network at times when the MeyGen project is not fully utilising it. The partnership is being described by Atlantis Chief Executive Tim Cornelius as a world first. More information is at http://renews.biz/103342/wind-tie-up-for-atlantis-grid/

Tourism, Food & Drink:
• It is great to see a new business opening at John O’Groats. I was delighted to be invited to join friends Teresa and Andy Wymer last weekend with others for a sneak preview of their new venture, Stacks Coffeehouse & Bistro, which opens officially on Monday 11th July after a limited hours service this week. Stacks opening Jul 16The business, which is in the former JOG Pottery premises, will provide another “end of the road” offering to complement investments by others such as Natural Retreats, the Seaview Hotel, John O’ Groats Brewery and Flavours. It also comes at a time when interest in the north’s tourism product is high, with the international success of the North Coast 500 brand. Most recently the NC500 featured last weekend on the BBC’s season finale of “Top Gear” The programme is available to view on the BBC iPlayer at http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b07k4rqc/top-gear-series-23-episode-6#group=p03wtrm0 and Venture North has added another fantastic blog to its “Discovery” series, with Gail Brown writing and photographing what inspires her about the north of Scotland. Well worth a look at http://www.venture-north.co.uk/blog/venture-north-discovery-gail-brown
• Another relatively new business in the area is New Wave Foods, where seaweed is harvested from the north coastlines and processed into edible products. Three staff are already employed in the Wick-based business, with up to nine jobs forecast within three years. The company has had financial support in its plans from CNSRP partner Highlands and Island Enterprise (HIE). http://caithness-business.co.uk/article.php?id=6809

Enabling activities:
• Last week’s meeting of the Dounreay Stakeholder Group heard a presentation from Charles Skinner, the Chief Executive of Restore UK and Donald McLachlan of construction contractor Morrison Construction. Restore UK is the commercial partner engaged by CNSRP partner the NDA to operate its Nuclear Archive facility in Wick. Mr McLachlan highlighted the excellent progress being made with the construction of the facility, and Mr Skinner welcomed the significant interest in employment opportunities with the company when it ran events in Wick last month. The presentation is covered by the John O’ Groat Journal, which highlights the potential for the facility to increase in size in the future. http://www.johnogroat-journal.co.uk/News/Nuclear-archive-could-double-in-size-05072016.htm
• North Highland College UHI is advertising for a Chair for its Board of Management, to take over from Niall Smith who steps down from the role later this year. The College plays a full part in the developing role of the University of the Highlands and Islands, and plays an important part in the CNSRP Programme. You can find the job description at https://www.northhighland.uhi.ac.uk/staff/vacancies And another organisation seeking Board level representation is the Caithness & North Sutherland Fund, which is the body established by DSRL, the NDA and the Dounreay Stakeholder Group to administer the £4M community benefit fund associated with the construction of low-level waste facilities at Dounreay. The fund has assisted a number of community organisations in the area since its inception in 2011. A copy of the vacancy notice for a CNSF board member is at http://www.cnsf.org.uk/2016/07/01/director-vacancy-application-deadline-friday-22nd-july-2016/

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:
• Simon Middlemas and I were back out at the Dounreay site this week to deliver another of our lunchtime talks to Dounreay workers on the topic of “future jobs prospects”. Despite it being the first week of the school holidays we had a large audience of around 50 staff who listened to our presentation and asked questions on a range of issues such as skills development, recruitment, education and health services. To date we have delivered a series of talks to around 150 workers from DSRL and supply chain, and are keen to keep presenting to groups both at Dounreay and elsewhere. Coincidentally, this week’s Caithness Courier carries news of NHS Highland’s programme to attract
• Good to see coverage on social media and the local press this week of the recent partnership announced between Caithness companies Norse Stone and GMR Henderson. The two companies aim to use their respective strengths to bring a more streamlined supply chain solution for customers. More at http://www.buildscotland.co.uk/construction-news/215455/norse-stone-and-gmr-henderson-form-partnership
• A reminder that Caithness Chamber of Commerce will be hosting a drop-in event for businesses next week (Wednesday 13th July). The event is open to members and non-members, and is intended as an opportunity to meet the Chamber team, ask any questions and discuss your plans for the future. More information is at http://caithnesschamber.com/events/chamber-drop-in-afternoon