Weekly update, 14th November

Energy & business services:
• Following the successful installation of turbine support structures last month, this week marks another milestone in the development of tidal energy in the Pentland Firth, with the installation of the first tidal turbine in the MeyGen project. The turbine, the first of four in the initial phase of the MeyGen project, has now begun generating power. For updates on the project, including underwater shots of the working turbine, please see the twitter feed of Atlantis Resources Ltd at https://twitter.com/atlantisresplc
• Representatives of the Beatrice Offshore Windfarm Ltd will be in Wick next week to give a public update on progress with the project, and perhaps more specifically with plans to use Wick harbour as the Operations & Maintenance base for the project. Staff from SSE will also be there to update on progress with the huge Caithness-Moray project to enhance the electricity distribution grid. The event will be open to the public between 3pm and 7pm on Thursday 24th November at Mackay’s Hotel in Wick.

Tourism, food & drink:
• It has been another good year for north food & drink businesses, with companies such as Dunnet Bay Distillers and Wolfburn winning awards for their products. This week I was lucky enough to visit the Reid’s of Caithness production facility in Thurso, and see at first hand the process of producing their award-winning bakery products. With national and international orderbooks, the company is a good example of the ability of companies in the north to export high-quality product.
• I was invited this week by Caithness Chamber of Commerce to meet with the tourism manager for Scotrail. Together with Andrew Mackay of the Caithness Collection hotels/ Federation of Small Businesses, we discussed the opportunities for Scotrail’s considerable marketing reach to help deliver growth in tourism on the Far North Line. It was a welcome discussion, following close on the recent discussion with Scotrail’s new Highland-based manager at the Caithness Transport Forum, where a very positive view of planned improvements on the Far North Line’s rolling stock and infrastructure were put forward.

Enabling activities:
• It was good to hear this week from Anna MacConnell of CNSRP partner the NDA that continuing progress is being made in the construction of the NDA Archive in Wick. Recruitment of staff has now been completed, and the building is now nearing completion. This week’s Caithness Courier provides a very useful pictorial update on the project.

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 CNSRP Delivery Group met this week, and focused on our development of a plan that brings partners together to maximise the impact of employment-generating opportunities in the area over the coming years. We are working to a timetable that will allow us to agree what interventions are required of partners, and to communicate that potential programme of work by next April. The meeting also heard updates on projects on our current programme – it was particularly good to hear from CNSRP partner the NDA of the continuing progress being made in the construction of the NDA Archive in Wick (see “enabling activities” above).
• I also attended a meeting of the Dounreay Stakeholder Group’s socio-economic subgroup this week, at which my written quarterly update report was tabled, in addition to a written socio-economic report from June Love on behalf of the Dounreay Alliance.