Weekly update, 19th September

Energy & Business Services:
• Representatives from the Beatrice Offshore Windfarm consortium were in Wick last week to formally unveil plans to transform two historic buildings at Wick harbour into the Operations & Maintenance base for the project. A planning application for the plans was submitted to CNSRP partner Highland Council this week. The display materials and building elevations from the event have been posted to the Beatrice webpages at http://sse.com/whatwedo/ourprojectsandassets/renewables/Beatrice/
• Following last week’s launch at Nigg Energy park of the MeyGen tidal energy project’s first turbines, activity at Scrabster harbour has increased as preparations are made to take the ballast blocks fabricated at the JGC Engineering facilities in Caithness. The jack-up barge that will install the devices arrived at Nigg last week, and has this week been up at the MeyGen site. A suitable tide is now awaited.

Orange ballast blocks being prepared for the MeyGen project at Scrabster's Jubilee Quay

Orange ballast blocks being prepared for the MeyGen project at Scrabster’s Jubilee Quay


• The Caithness-Moray electricity grid infrastructure project reached another milestone this week with the news that the first section of the network between Knocknagael and Kintore on the Moray coast had been connected to the National Grid. http://renews.biz/104215/first-power-for-moray-link/

Tourism, Food & Drink:
• As we move out of what has traditionally been the main tourism season in the north, it is good to see that visitor numbers continue to hold up. Last week saw nearly 800 cyclists arrive in the area as part of the Deloitte “Ride Across Britain” challenge (http://www.rideacrossbritain.com/) and the remarkable international profile of the North Coast 500 route grows further . It was good to catch up this week with David Whiteford, chairman of the North Highland Initiative (NHI), about the route’s success to date and its potential to act as a driver for further economic growth across the region. Key to much of the current and future growth of tourism in the area will be enhanced digital ways of working, so it will be good to have opportunities like the ones being created by CNSRP partner Highlands and Islands Enterprise. A series of workshops aims to “ensure your Social and Digital Media activities are part of a carefully thought out marketing plan which is tailored to target the customers you want, match your goals, and that you can measure the return on your investment and…support you in the development of an actionable social and digital media-marketing plan.” Two upcoming one-day events to be held in Tongue and Thurso are available to book at http://www.hie.co.uk/about-hie/events/archive/28-09-2016-digital-strategy-for-tourism–full-day—-tongue.html and http://www.hie.co.uk/about-hie/events/archive/27-09-2016-digital-strategy-workshop-for-tourism—thurso.html

Enabling activities:
• I was invited to sit in on a discussion with local businesses as a key part of the Inverness City-Region Deal programme is being developed. The Northern Innovation Hub is a multi-million pound programme aimed at accelerating business growth and increasing business productivity/ profitability in the Highland Council area. Fraser Grieve of the Scottish Council Development & Industry (SCDI), John Robertson of CNSRP Partner Highland Council and Donna Chisholm of CNSRP partner HIE were on hand in Thurso to explain the key aspects of the overall City-Region Deal, and more specific targets for the North Innovation Hub.

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 Dounreay Stakeholder Group met this week, and although the main topic of business was a presentation and discussion on nuclear transportation, I provided a short update to members on recent CNSRP-related activity. It was good to have DSRL Managing Director Phil Craig mention the positive response from staff to the talks delivered by Simon Middlemas and myself over recent months, and highlight other support to CNSRP projects from Simon, June Love and Shona Kirk. At the meeting Mike Flavell of NHS Highland also mentioned a newsletter being produced by NHS Highland to keep local people updated on work happening in Caithness as the redesign of services in the area is rolled out. The newsletter is at http://www.nhshighland.scot.nhs.uk/News/PublicConsultation/CaithnessRedesign/Communications%20Documents/Caithness%20Briefing%20Issue%201%20Sept%202016.pdf