Weekly update, 23rd January 2017

Energy & business services:
• The Scottish Government has published its draft Energy Strategy – “The Future of Energy in Scotland” – which sets out the Scottish Government’s vision for the future energy system in Scotland for the period to 2050. The strategy is now out for consultation until 30th May, and you can view the document and make a response to the consultation at https://consult.scotland.gov.uk/energy-and-climate-change-directorate/draft-energy-strategy/
• The third of the initial four tidal turbines for Phase 1A of the MeyGen project was successfully installed at the project’s site in the Inner Sound of the Pentland Firth last week. http://renews.biz/105642/atlantis-builds-meygen-momentum/ and project owner Atlantis Resources has also this week announced a memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with French company Ideol, which will see the partners develop a floating offshore wind scheme somewhere in the UK.
• As preparation work continues for the Beatrice project lead partner SSE has this week announced completion of a survey to identify unexploded ordinance (UXO) on the seabed in the area. http://renews.biz/105628/uxo-all-clear-for-beatrice/ I also brought together several CNSRP partners this week to consider a project that could enhance Wick harbour as a safe haven for vessels.

Tourism, food & drink:

• The highly-regarded Xpo North is on the road in February, with a workshop In Wick on making a success of a career in the creative industries. The event – on Thursday 9th February – will have speakers on a range of issues. To see the full programme and to book a place please visit https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/xponorth-on-the-road-wick-tickets-31157314366. And this week sees the launch of a short film shot mainly in Caithness and Sutherland, highlighting some of the creative industry talent at work in the Highlands. Robert Aitken’s “Last Footsteps of Home” is now available to stream online at https://vimeo.com/ondemand/lastfootstepsofhome

Enabling activities:
• I mentioned in last week’s update the “Jobs and How to Get Them” event in Thurso on Saturday 4th February, in the ETEC facility at North Highland College from 10am-2pm. 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. Pulteneytown People’s Project currently has a Modern Apprenticeship opportunity in Business & Administration (Level 3) for age 16 -24. This can be a young person employed specifically to undertake the MA, (PPP can assist in recruiting a suitable candidate if required), or it can be an existing employee keen for the opportunity to achieve a qualification. It’s a great opportunity to join this thriving organisation, so for further details contact Julie Cassidy on julie.cassidy@pppwick.org.uk or visit the PPP stand at the Jobs event.
• As I mentioned in a recent update, the rollout of Next Generation Broadband continues to make good progress and is available to many homes in local areas including Bettyhill, Dunbeath, Helmsdale, Keiss, Lybster, Reay, Wick and Thurso. As a reminder, the fibre service must be ordered from a provider as customers are not automatically upgraded to the new service. You can check availability at http://www.hie.co.uk/whereandwhen
• CNSRP partner Highland Council’s Planning Infrastructure and Development committee met this week, for the last time before the Council elections in May. Andrew Johnston of the Highlands & Islands Science Skills Academy gave an update on the roll out of the Newton Rooms programme to the Committee, and it and it was good to hear Councillors supporting the delivery of the projected network of Newton Rooms. It also reinforced the progress we believe has already been made in ensuring that Thurso will be one of the first of these facilities to be delivered.

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:
• It was great to be present at the formal opening of a new office at Naver Business Centre for the Shirlie Project. The Project has for more than 20 years been delivering a range of programmes aimed at supporting people into employment, but it is great to have a member of staff (Heather Harper) now working in Caithness to help take forward these great initiatives. The project has drawn support from CNSRP partners Skills development Scotland, Highland Council and Scottish Government, and you can find out more at http://www.shirlie.co.uk/
• Scottish Provincial Press published its regular Energy North supplement this week, with its usual selection of stories including tidal energy, Beatrice Offshore Windfarm, Scottish renewable energy figures, and CNSRP partner Highlands and Island Enterprise’s oil & gas decommissioning plan.