Weekly update, 12th December

Energy & business services:
• Good to see news yesterday (Thursday) that the second phase of the Meygen project has reached financial closure, allowing construction to take place in the inner sound of the Pentland Firth in 2017. The project will be taken forward by Stroma Tidal Power Ltd, a wholly owned company of Atlantis Resources Ltd. A good summary of progress and plans is contained at the website of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers http://www.imeche.org/news/news-article/meygen-tidal-stream-project-receives-14m-for-next-construction-phase

Enabling activities:
• The Reporter appointed to lead the Public Local Inquiry into the Berriedale Braes Improvement Scheme issued her final report late last week. The letter to Transport Scotland confirms the Reporter’s view that the proposed Improvement Scheme should go ahead unamended. As previously highlighted here the Berriedale improvements have been a part of the CNSRP Programme over a long period, and support in developing the plans has come from CNSRP partners the NDA and Highland Council. The relevant documents, including a copy of the final Report, are at https://www.dpea.scotland.gov.uk/CaseDetails.aspx?id=116958&T=20
• A very useful meeting took place this week of a group brought together under the Highlands and Islands Science Skills Academy to take forward the “Newton Rooms” concept, which seeks to provide additional inspirational learning opportunities for young people. The development of the project in the Highland Council area has been greatly helped by the Inverness City-Region Deal, and we are now planning a first Newton Room in Caithness.

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:
• Welcome news this week that following a period of uncertainty regarding the future of EU Programmes following the UK Referendum, the Highland LEADER Programme is encouraging potential applicants to come forward with project ideas. Funding of over £6.6 million is available for projects that will benefit communities across the Highlands, and Scottish Government has confirmed that LEADER funds can be committed up until the point the UK leaves the EU. The LEADER Programme promoting economic and community development within rural areas, and has Local Area Partnerships in both Caithness and Sutherland. More info on the Highland Programme is at http://www.highlandleader.com Also this week saw the launch of the Beatrice Partnership Fund, the community benefit fund set up for the communities affected by the Beatrice Offshore Windfarm project. The Fund will be £4M for the part of the Highland Council area affected, and further information on it is available at http://sse.com/beingresponsible/responsiblecommunitymember/localcommunityfunds/beatricepartnershipfund/