Weekly update, 20th February 2017

Energy & business services:
• At a meeting of the north Planning Applications Committee of Highland Council this week Councillors agreed to offer no objection to the application by Dounreay Tri Ltd to construct a floating offshore wind project at a site of the north coast of Caithness. The paper considered by Councillors is available to view at http://www.highland.gov.uk/meetings/meeting/3816/north_planning_applications_committee – a final view on consent for the project will come from Marine Scotland and Scottish Ministers.
• The fourth turbine in Phase 1A of the MeyGen tidal project was safely installed in the Inner Sound of the Pentland Firth earlier this week, and parent company Atlantis Resources reports that the Atlantis AR1500 turbine was installed on its foundation in under 30 remarkable minutes by the highly-skilled crew on board the Olympic Ares. By today (Friday) the company was able to report that the turbine was already working at full power, exporting to the electricity grid. http://www.londonstockexchange.com/exchange/news/market-news/market-news-detail/ARL/13138196.html The MeyGen project was also voted Project of the Year at this week’s Green Innovation and Finance Awards in London, and recent photos/ videos of the project can be found at https://twitter.com/atlantisresplc

Tourism, Food & Drink:

• Following last week’s news that Scrabster Harbour Trust had launched its latest cruise ship marketing campaign with an excellent short film by acclaimed local business start-up Storyboard Films, this week’s Caithness Courier reports that 2017 is set to be a record year for cruise ship business through the port, with 13 visits so far scheduled, and a potential 6,000 passenger visits. As I highlighted last week 2016 was a good year for the port, with cruise passenger numbers of just over 5,000 up over 60% on 2015. http://www.johnogroat-journal.co.uk/News/Number-of-liners-sailing-into-Scrabster-Harbour-set-to-break-record-19022017.htm

Enabling activities:

• This week’s meeting of a local group working under the banner of the Highlands & Islands Science Skills Academy welcomed the news that funding from the Inverness City Region Deal had been confirmed for the development of a network of “Newton Rooms” to stimulate the enthusiasm of young people in STEMD (science, technology, engineering, maths and digital) subjects. We were particularly keen to move on to the development of a suitable space and programme of activities in Caithness, engaging partners in the business community to ensure a longer-term sustainability for the facility.
• Together with CNSRP partner colleagues I met this afternoon (Friday) with a group of people working on the Graduate programme at Dounreay. We presented the graduates with several opportunities to work with CNSRP-related projects during their time on the programme. Recruitment has also begun for a new intake of up to 10 engineering, science and business graduates at Dounreay. Application deadline is 10 March 2017 for the two-year posts, and further information is at http://www.dounreay.com/news/2017-02-20/graduates-offered-chance-to-be-part-of-dounreay-decommissioning

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:
• Shaun Cauvin from Veterans Scotland was in Caithness this week to talk to local partners about the work of VS and related bodies. The organisation provides a wide range of support to veterans, and I was particularly interested in the work being doen on employability and skills transition. The opportunity to attract skilled personnel leaving one of the armed forces is significant, and we have asked for further information on the current position in the north, as well as the forward programme of employment events planned for this audience. More on the organisation’s work is at http://www.veteransscotland.co.uk/
• Good to catch up this week with Matt McDowell, who was in Caithness carrying out research on the history of surfing in the area from 1970 to the present day. Matt’s research seeks to examine place, community, and changes in Thurso and the surrounding area during the time period. It will also thoroughly examine the relationship between surfing and the community. We talked about the competitive and non-competitive surfing developments, and also how the surfing “lifestyle” can be used in helping build a picture of the area as a great place in which to work, live and visit. He is keen to talk to a range of people as his research progresses, and can be contacted at matt.mcdowell@ed.ac.uk Dr McDowell’s work complements research currently being carried on behalf of Dounreay by Linda Ross on the social history of Dounreay.