Weekly update, 3rd October

Energy & Business Services:
• Further contract awards for the Beatrice Offshore Windfarm Ltd (BOWL) project this week, again associated with the construction phase of the project. http://renews.biz/104432/dutch-tool-up-for-beatrice/ and the planning application submitted to Highland Council by BOWL is also available to view on the Council’s website at http://wam.highland.gov.uk/wam/applicationDetails.do?activeTab=summary&keyVal=ODFTGQIHJAO00
• Good to see that the first foundation for the MeyGen tidal project was successfully installed in the Inner Sound of thePentland Firth overnight on Thursday/ Friday this week. Cameron Smith of Atlantis Resources Ltd was the keynote speaker at the AGM of Caithness Chamber of Commerce this week, and spoke of the huge logistical effort to bring this exciting project together. There are some excellent images of the installation process on the Atlantis Resources Twitter and Instagram feeds at https://twitter.com/atlantisresplc

Tourism, Food & Drink:
• This weekend sees a further “Taste North” celebration of local produce from Caithness and Sutherland. The event is an initiative of Venture North, the group of tourism businesses working together to promote the area’s tourism assets. Following last year’s very successful event held at Ackergill Tower near Wick, the 2016 event will be held at the Burghfield House Hotel, Dornoch on Sunday 9th October, from 11am to 4pm. For more information on the event, which is supported by CNSRP partner the NDA, see http://www.venture-north.co.uk/taste-north/?all
• Good to see news in this week’s Caithness Courier of the continued work being done at New Wave Foods to harvest seaweed from the north and east coasts of Caithness. As previously highlighted here, the company’s processing facility in Wick was supported by CNSRP partner Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE), and aims to provide up to 9 jobs within the next three years, but is seeking casual workers to help harvest during this particularly busy period. http://www.hie.co.uk/about-hie/news-and-media/archive/wave-of-optimism-for-wick-seaweed-firm.html#sthash.0ahJb3s9.dpbs

Enabling activities:
• As discussions with partners in the Highlands and Islands Science Skills Academy continue regarding plans to bring STEM learning facilities to Caithness, further welcome coverage for the great work being done in Wick by Chris Aitken and High School students. In a blog published last week on the Apps for Good website the very heartening view is that “We think the future of tech isn’t in London or San Francisco, but in Wick – and places like it all over Scotland.” The blog goes on to highlight that additional funding from the Digital Xtra Fund will allow training of more Scottish teachers to take forward the kinds of inspirational work being done in the place we now know as “Silicon Wick” – more on this at: https://blog.appsforgood.org/2016/09/26/siliconwick-growing-the-next-generation-of-scottish-entrepreneurs-with-digital-xtra/#more-3159
• It’s also good to see further “street cabinets” being commissioned and going live as part of the ongoing roll-out of superfast fibre broadband services in the area. Recent additions to the network include Forss near Thurso, and a second cabinet for Lybster. As previously highlighted, in order to take advantage of fibre services they need to be ordered from an internet service provider. Background on the rollout programme, which is led by CNSRP partner Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE), can be found at http://www.hie.co.uk/regional-information/digital-highlands-and-islands/can-i-get-it.html where you can also check on an interactive map to see which communities now have cabinets.

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:
• Last week’s edition of the excellent Energy North supplement issued by Scottish Provincial Press is now available to view online. In addition to coverage of the recent MeyGen tidal energy activity, the supplement covers another wide range of pieces, including the BOWL O&M plans for Wick harbour, the economic impact of the Caithness-Moray electricity grid upgrades, and the concluding part of the history of energy development in the Highlands, written by HIE’s Calum Davidson as a fascinating tour around the North Coast 500 route. http://edition.pagesuite-professional.co.uk/launch.aspx?eid=83d04553-74eb-456a-904a-7cfc4b5cc958
• The Highlands & Islands Business Awards were held in Inverness last week, and it was good to see success for Mackay’s Hotel(Caithness & Sutherland Business of the Year) and Pulteneytown People’s Project (Social Enterprise of the Year). There is a timely reminder in today’s John O’Groat Journal that PPP has had a remarkable journey over the last 13 years or so. I was one of the speakers at the meeting in the South School in 2003 that agreed to form PPP, and it’s amazing to see Katrina Macnab and her team having grown from a tiny office in North Murchison Street with two people to an organisation of some 50 staff and a £0.75M turnover that provides a fantastic range of services. As she recovers from her nasty recent car crash I’m sure the award is one Katrina will be proud of.