Weekly update, 22nd August

Energy and Business Services:
• Good to see local and regional coverage this week of the new business created by two of the men affected by the closure of Enterprise Engineering Services Ltd’s Caithness operation earlier this year. When the company’s operation went into administration, Liam Sutherland and Stuart Anderson set up Envision Engineering & Design, employing three of their former EESL colleagues. The company has now set up office in Thurso, with work already secured at Dounreay and in Cumbria, as well as with SSE and other renewables and oil & gas companies. The new firm was assisted by financial support from CNSRP partner Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE). http://www.hie.co.uk/about-hie/news-and-media/archive/new-business-start-up-for-thurso.html#sthash.TItmtqri.dpbs
• SSE has this week published a report on the economic benefits derived from its Caithness-Moray project. This major infrastructural project has brought large numbers of workers into the area, and has also provided employment for a number of local people. http://sse.com/newsandviews/allarticles/2016/08/caithnessmorayprojectpoweringemploymentandboosttotheeconomy/

Tourism, food & drink:
• Scrabster harbour welcomed another cruise ship to port last week, with the arrival of the “Hebridean Sky”. It was one of the smaller cruise ships visiting the port, but still brought a number of passengers ashore to visit local attractions, some taking advantage of the ongoing shuttle bus service made possible through CNSRP partner Highland Council. Next week sees the second visit of the season from the Pacific Princess, which can carry up to 820 passengers plus crew. This weekend sees an event at Scrabster Harbour celebrating the 175th anniversary of the port’s creation.
• In a further boost to the profile of the area, this week’s BBC One Show has had two successive pieces filmed on the North Coast 500 route. The BBC’s Andy Kershaw drove the route in brilliant sunshine, and the episodes (Thursday 25th and Friday 26th) will be available to view on the BBC iPlayer. http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b07nr0m6/the-one-show-25082016

Enabling activities:
• I met this week with partners planning the next “Jobs and How to Get Them” event, which will be held in February 2017. This will be the fifth such event, which seeks to bring together local public sector bodies and businesses to provide access to information and advice on employment opportunities in a range of sectors. Partners are this time keen to provide support for young people and parents considering subject choices at High School, as a further means of helping identify opportunities, and possible routes to gaining appropriate skills.
• It’s great to hear that the opportunity for premises at John O’Groats to order superfast fibre broadband has arrived. CNSRP partners HIE and Scottish Government support the ongoing rollout of fibre broadband across the Highlands and Islands, and the challenges of finding an appropriate solution at John O’Groats has been tackled by BT Scotland. You can check if your premises can order fibre broadband by visiting http://www.hie.co.uk/regional-information/digital-highlands-and-islands/can-i-get-it.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 pleased to meet again this week with Associate Professor Shinsuke Tomotsugu of the Institute for Peace Science at Hiroshima University in Japan. He was in the UK last year researching examples of communities who were successfully planning for a future beyond reliance on the nuclear industry, and has returned to Caithness to find out more about how we addressed the many challenges associated with an economy in transition. He plans to return to Caithness again next year as his research progresses.
• The latest in the series of “Energy North” Supplements from Scottish Provincial Press (SPP) is published this week with all SPP titles in the Highlands. As always it contains a diverse range of energy-related articles, including HIE’s Calum Davidson continuing his energy trail around the North Coast 500.