Weekly update, 21st November

Energy & business services:
• Representatives of the Beatrice Offshore Windfarm Ltd were in Wick yesterday (Thursday 24th) 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. The event was very busy, and it was great to be able to talk to key personnel involved in the project. It was also good to catch up with local businesses, some of whom are already beginning to benefit from the project. A decision on the project’s application for consent to convert two large buildings at Wick harbour into an O&M base is expected very soon. For more information on the project see http://sse.com/whatwedo/ourprojectsandassets/renewables/Beatrice/
• Staff from SSE were also at this week’s event in Wick to update on progress with the huge Caithness-Moray project to enhance the electricity distribution grid – this project has seen huge infrastructure investment in onshore substations and switching stations in Caithness, and over the coming 12 months will see work focus on the offshore infrastructure required to ensure safe laying of the subsea cable between Noss Head near Wick and Portgordon in Moray. More info on this project is at http://www.ssen-transmission.co.uk/projects/caithness-moray/

Enabling activities:
• I was delighted to be asked to give a presentation on future employment opportunities at this week’s Thurso High School information evening for parents of S2 students. Together with Caithness Chamber of Commerce’s Marcus Mennie, who manages the Developing the Young Workforce initiative on the CNSRP programme, we spoke about the range of employment opportunities being pursued at the moment, and I was able to highlight that our efforts are focused on opportunities to provide long-term job prospects – not only for those of current working age, but also for those coming through the schools system.. It was good to be approached after the presentation by parents who were keen to find out more.
• In a week where health issues in Caithness have dominated, I attended a meeting to discuss the impacts (and potential opportunities) from the retendering by CNSRP partner Highland Council of transport services in the area. A packed public meeting in Wick heard a range of concerns from public transport users.

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 Executive Board met this week, and I was able to update members 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 have been working to a timetable that will allow us to agree what interventions might be required of partners beyond the current CNSRP programme’s end date of March next year. Partners were supportive of a need to maintain the momentum enabled by CNSRP’s collective work, and I was asked to continue to work with partners to develop a potential programme of work.
• Scottish Provincial Press published its regular “Energy North” supplement this week with all of its titles in the Highlands and Moray. As always under editor Alan Hendry it contains a great range of stories focused on current activities in the sector, including the installation of the first MeyGen turbines, the BOWL project and the NDA Archive in Wick. It also contains a great piece on the community funds donated by Subsea 7, whose manager Willie Watt has overseen around £217,000 of donations to community groups in Caithness as part of a performance recognition scheme at the firm’s site at Wester, near Wick.
• Earlier this week Calum Davidson, recently-retired Director of Energy & Low Carbon with CNSRP partner HIE was given the well-deserved honour of having one of the tidal turbines destined for deployment at the MeyGen site named after him. The short naming ceremony on the quayside at Nigg Energy Park is captured in a short video at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mIRt1bwVrdg&feature=youtu.be

Calum Davidson and family, flanked by Lorne Crerar (HIE) and Tim Cornelius (Atlantis Resources Ltd) at Nigg Energy Park, November 2016

Calum Davidson and family, flanked by Lorne Crerar (HIE) and Tim Cornelius (Atlantis Resources Ltd) at Nigg Energy Park, November 2016