Weekly update, 18th July

Energy and Business Services:
• CNSRP partner Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) and Scrabster Harbour Trust co-hosted a visit last week from Deirdre Michie, Chief Executive of Oil & Gas UK. During her visit she met representatives from a number of local companies, and also had discussions on the potential for Scrabster in particular to capitalise on its growing role in servicing west of Shetland Oil & Gas fields. As previously reported here, HIE and Scrabster Harbour Trust have each been working (with financial support from CNSRP partner Dounreay) on studies aimed at quantifying the benefits of doing oil & gas business from Caithness. Mrs Michie’s visit has given further encouragement that the north is well placed to derive economic benefit from the oil & gas industry’s developing “Atlantic frontier” to the west of Shetland.
• And it is also good this week to hear of news that Forsyth’s, a Rothes-based company, is to take over the fabrication facilities formerly owned by Enterprise Engineering Services Ltd at Westerdale in Caithness. The company has begun the process of recruiting staff via Orion Group, and I was happy to give a reaction to the news for today’s John O’Groat Journal. More information is at http://www.orionjobs.com/blog/orion-group-appointed-exclusive-recruitment-partner-for-fabrication-yard-in-caithness-blog-62042291426
• Another milestone this week for the huge Caithness-Moray electricity transmission grid project, with the successful completion of directional drilling down through rock at Noss Head near Wick. This will allow the underground cable from the HVDC switching station being built at Spittal to transmit up to 1200MW of renewable power from Caithness under the Moray Firth to another switching station at Blackhillock in Moray. More information is at http://news.ssepd.co.uk/news/all-articles/2016/07/noss-head/ And a short video of the drilling phase is at https://vimeo.com/174839708

Tourism, Food & Drink
• Scrabster welcomed its third cruise ship of the season this week. The Pacific Princess, with 658 passengers and 343 crew, docked at the harbour on Monday en route to Iceland. Whilst the weather didn’t reach the tropical heights of Tuesday, many passengers either took advantage of the free shuttle bus service into Thurso town centre provided by CNSRP partner Highland Council, or took part in organised excursions to attractions such as the Castle of Mey. The port is due to have a record year for cruise ship business, with a scheduled 12 vessels visiting by the end of the season.

Enabling activities:
• For the second time this month we have hosted a visit to the area from an overseas company interested in the area. June Love, who is seconded part-time from DSRL to HIE in support of our efforts to attract new businesses to the area, worked with HIE area manager Roy Kirk to bring together a programme of visits to sites and companies.
• CNSRP partner Skills Development Scotland (SDS) is currently advertising for a full-time Careers Adviser, with a starting salary of £27,043. The successful candidate will work across the agency’s north area, with the post’s main location flexible. More details are at https://jobs.sds.co.uk/internal/vacancy/careers-adviser-work-coach-service-inverness-273146.html

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 delighted last week to see Thurso-based Youngson Wealth Management celebrate its first year in business. Gary Youngson’s premises in central Thurso sits in what he refers to as Thurso’s financial district, perhaps giving further food for thought on how the area markets itself!
• In a week where temperatures soared in the north it seems hard to think about Autumn and Winter. But North Highland College has just issued its booklet outlining a range of evening courses starting in September this year. From professional development awards in accounting and business subjects and Higher National units to informal interest courses, it is worth having a look! More at https://www.northhighland.uhi.ac.uk/study-at-nhc/prospectus/evening-classes