Weekly update, 16th January 2017

Energy & business services:
• Following last week’s very welcome news that Highland Council has approved the application to redevelop harbour-side buildings in Wick as an Operations & Maintenance base for the Beatrice Offshore Windfarm (BOWL) project comes the first visualisation of what the restored buildings will look like – for picture see the BOWL Twitter feed at https://twitter.com/beatricewind
• The post of Control Room Supervisor for the Beatrice project, which is advertised at a very attractive salary scale of £41,500-£62,500, has an application deadline of next Tuesday (24th January) http://www.ssejobs.co.uk/caw/en/job/509453/beatrice-control-room-supervisor
• Subsea 7 has this week announced a bid to buy the remaining 50% interest in Dutch company Seaway Heavy Lifting (SHL). Subsea 7, which has a base at Wester near Wick, already owns a 50% stake in SHL, who are a Tier 1 supply chain company to the Beatrice Offshore Windfarm project. http://renews.biz/105575/subsea-7-seeks-shl-control/

Tourism, food & drink:
• A tongue-in-cheek marketing campaign from the North Coast 500 team has been receiving widespread coverage on social media this week. “40 reasons why you must avoid Caithness at all costs” has been accompanied by stunning images from around the area, and has prompted considerable interest! See more at the NC500 blog page – http://www.northcoast500.com/blog/caithness-blog/january-2017-(1)/40-reasons-why-you-should-never-ever-ever-visit-ca.aspx

Enabling activities:
• I mentioned in last week’s update the “Jobs and How to Get Them” event in Thurso on 4th February, in the ETEC facility at North Highland College (see my online blog for event poster). One of the features of this event has been the opportunity for young people to speak directly to businesses offering apprenticeships, and this year is no exception. One of those businesses, Dounreay Site Restoration Ltd, has begun advertising these opportunities, and you can find out more information at http://www.dounreay.com/about-us/careers-at-dounreay or visit the DSRL stand at the event. Marcus Mennie (Caithness Chamber of Commerce) and I will be doing a piece on the event for broadcast on Caithness FM next week.
• Next week sees the AGM of the North Highland Regeneration Fund (NHRF), which is the fund set up by CNSRP partner the NDA to support local businesses with loans of £5,000 to £50,000. The fund is managed by Caithness Chamber of Commerce, and the AGM is in Caithness Horizons, Thurso on Tuesday 24th January at 11.00am http://nhrf.co.uk/
• Good to see further coverage for fibre broadband in the area, with news this week of a new “street cabinet” at Bridge of Westfield and a second cabinet at Barrock (which will cover Dunnet) both in Caithness. As always, superfast broadband is a service that has to be ordered from an Internet Service Provider – and it is worth checking to see how coverage in your area currently looks as the rollout programme, led by CNSRP partner Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE), continues. More information is at http://www.hie.co.uk/regional-information/digital-highlands-and-islands/can-i-get-it.html
• A reminder the next week sees two surgeries on funding opportunities in the area from the Highland LEADER Programme – one in Wick on 24th January and one in Thurso on 25th January. Booking is essential for these events, which will allow one-to-one advice from the LEADER Development Officer to community groups interested in taking forward projects. Please contact paula.betts@highland.gov.uk to book a place.

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:
• I attended a meeting of the Caithness Community Planning Partnership this week, at which colleagues from Highland Council and NHS Highland began explaining the process for developing children’s and adults’ plans for Caithness, and I was aksed to give a brief outline of the work of CNSRP partners to help the area economy. An encouraging number of members of the public attended, and asked a number of questions about how community views and ideas would be incorporated into the work of the new Partnership, which has been set up to take forward the aspirations in the Scottish Government’s Community Empowerment Act. A key topic of discussion from the public attendees was the impact of changes to maternity services at Caithness General Hospital.
• Scottish Government’s consultation on the future management of the Crown Estate in Scotland has now opened at https://consult.scotland.gov.uk/crown-estate-strategy-unit/long-term-management-of-the-crown-estate/ This is an important piece of work, with suggested options for the devolved management being a) retain management of all assets at national level; b) devolve management of all assets to local authorities or communities; or c)consider on a case-by-case basis the appropriate governance arrangements for each asset currently managed by The Crown Estate in Scotland. An interim public body is being set up to manage Crown Estate assets, and this will be chaired by Amanda Bryan, who is a board member of CNSRP partner HIE. Amanda will be familiar to many in the north through her wide-ranging work in rural and community development, and those with longer memories will recall her family ties to Caithness (Bill Bryan having been the founding MD of Osprey Electronics, which is now known as Kongsberg Maritime.)