Weekly update, 20th March

Energy & business services:
• Last week Swedish company Hexicon was given consent from Scottish Government for its Dounreay Tri floating offshore wind project. As previously highlighted here, the company has announced commitments to work with Scrabster Harbour Trust to establish an Operations & Maintenance base for the project, and with North Highland College UHI to establish apprenticeship training, should it reach financial closure. http://renews.biz/106328/scotland-oks-hexicon-floater/

Tourism, Food & Drink:
• Local tourism businesses in Caithness will be coming together next week (29th March) in Thurso. The “Caithness Tourism Gathering 2017” is being held under the auspices of the Caithness & Sutherland Visitor Attractions Group and Venture North, and will provide a forum for businesses to meet and discuss current issues and opportunities. For more information and to book a place, please contact info@casvag.co.uk Also this week it was good to see Tom Campbell being recognised for his innovative work at the North Highland Initiative, with the award for Director of the Year (Small Business) at last night’s Institute of Directors Awards in Glasgow. The NHI has, through Tom and Chairman David Whiteford, led the development of the North Coast 500 marketing campaign that has had such a positive effect on tourism business.
• Scottish food & drink industry this week announced a new strategy that aims to double the size of the industry by 2030. We have seen encouraging signs of growth and innovation in the industry in the north in recent years, with our area now boasting a number of award-winning companies. http://www.foodanddrink.scot/news/article-info/7436/scottish-food-and-drink-industry-unveils-new-vision-to-double-size-of-industry-to-%C2%A330-billion-by-2030.aspx

Enabling activities:
• It was good to see the “Made Orders” for the A9 Berriedale Braes improvement scheme being published this week by Transport Scotland. This is another important step forward for the project, which has been a feature of the CNSRP Programme and has attracted support in its enabling phase from CNSRP partners Highland Council and NDA. As previously highlighted here, the procurement of the scheme will begin in the new financial year, with construction planned next year. Copies of the documents with relevant plans are available to view at various local locations and online – for details see http://www.transport.gov.scot/project/a9-berriedale-braes-improvement-scheme

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:
• CNSRP’s Advisory Board met this week to further refine the shape of our future programme of activity, and to consider jobs targets for the next three years til March 2020. Over the coming three years we propose to focus on key opportunities in offshore wind, tidal, nuclear, oil & gas and tourism. We also discussed how best to ensure partnership structures reflect the changing shape of wider groupings such as the Community Planning Partnerships and the Dounreay Stakeholder Group.
• The Dounreay Stakeholder Group met last week, and its AGM saw Chairman David Flear step down after very productive spells as DSG Chair, vice-Chair and member. New Chair Roger Saxon now takes over the role.
• I was delighted to be invited to present to a group of representatives from Norway, Sweden, Finland and Greenland this week. The group met in Thurso under the auspices of the REGINA project, which aims to reduce the vulnerability and increase the preparedness of small communities in remote areas of the Nordic Arctic and Scotland facing development – or closing-down – of large-scale, resource-based industries. The project is part of the Northern Periphery and Arctic Programme 2014-2020 and will run until September 2018. The Thurso event focused on “Transitioning the Local Labour Force” and it was a good opportunity to present some of the work that has gone on in this area, as well as picking up on the common themes (skills, employment, transport, health) across the partner countries http://www.reginaproject.eu/open-seminar-invitation-transitioning-the-local-labour-force

Regina Project representatives from Scotland, Sweden, Norway, Finland & Greenland in Thurso, March 2017.