Weekly update, 3rd April – 5th June

Following the end of the two recent election periods, congratulations to all our new and returning Highland Councillors, and to our new MP. This is a short message to update you on activities relating to the Caithness & North Sutherland Regeneration Partnership (CNSRP) during the two election periods.

Energy & business services:
• The offshore construction phase of the Beatrice Offshore Windfarm project continues to make progress, with the huge vessel Stanislav Yudin (operated by Seaway Heavy Lifting) a regular feature off the Caithness coast. The vessel had (as of late May) installed 20% of the foundation piles for the 84 Siemens turbines expected to reach commissioning by 2019. This short animation shows how the installation process works http://vimeo.com/218014108 and you can find more info at http://renews.biz/107190/smulders-lifts-beatrice-jacket/ . Tier 1 supplier Siemens has also shipped the first of the two offshore substation modules from Germany http://renews.biz/107129/siemens-transforms-beatrice/ And finally on the Beatrice story it has been announced that the two original Beatrice wind turbines which were constructed 10 years ago as demonstrators in the Moray Firth, will be decommissioned by current owners Repsol Sinopec.

The Seaway Heavy Lifting vessel “Stanislav Yudin” will carry out construction work for the Beatrice Offshore Windfarm project.


• News this week that the announcement of the recipients of the current round of Contracts for Difference (a UK Government support mechanism for low carbon energy generators) might be delayed until September if any appeals are submitted from applicants deemed “non-qualifying”. However, if no appeals are submitted then the original announcement date of July will remain in force. The Moray Offshore Windfarm (East) consortium is one of those bidding for a CfD in support of its plans to develop a field. http://renews.biz/107348/cfd2-set-for-delay/
• The pensions administration office at Forss, which was taken over by Aon Hewitt, received good news as Aon announced that it has subcontracted its pensions administration business to Equiniti. Aon Hewitt had previously announced that it was exiting this part of the pensions market, so we hope that the skilled workforce at Forss will continue to provide services under the new management of Equiniti’s EQ Paymaster company. http://www.professionalpensions.com/professional-pensions/news/3008860/aon-hewitt-sub-contracts-admin-for-three-public-schemes-to-equiniti
• Caithness-based energy sector business Envision Engineering & Design Ltd have achieved a milestone in its first year of operation by achieving the ISO 9001:2015 Quality Management System certificate. The company employs five people and provides engineering solutions to a range of energy sectors. http://news.hie.co.uk/all-news/award-boost-for-thurso-engineering-firm/ The company is also advertising for the post of Graduate Mechanical Design Engineer – for further information see https://www.scotgrad.co.uk/companies/e/envision-engineering-and-design-ltd/placements/graduate-mechanical-design-engineer-xivovebtvp
Tourism, Food & Drink:
• Reid’s of Caithness was voted Scottish Baker of the Year at an awards ceremony in Glasgow last month, also winning several product-led awards at the event. http://caithness-business.co.uk/article.php?id=7406#.WQ8vTAezhPo.facebook

Enabling Activities:
• Great to see that fibre broadband has gone “live” in the village of Tongue, as the rollout of superfast broadband continues. As always, the best way to check detailed availability before ordering this enhanced service is to visit http://www.hie.co.uk/fibre

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:
• Dounreay Site Restoration Ltd (DSRL) will be holding consultation events next week in support of a planning application for Phase 3 of its Decommissioning Programme. Drop-in events will be held at Dounreay Information Office, Thurso (9am-5pm, 12th-16th June and 5pm-9pm 15th June); Reay Village Hall (6pm-9pm, 12th June); Pulteney Centre, Wick (6pm-9pm, 13th June).
• The first awards have been made by the Beatrice Partnership Fund, which was set up to support projects from charities and not-for-profit groups in Caithness, Sutherland and Moray. It’s great to see the range of initiatives supported in this first round. More information is at https://www.beatricewind.com/single-post/2017/06/01/Shining-a-light-on-good-causes
• Good to see that pupils and teachers were able to move into the new multi-million pound Wick community campus facilities in late April, as the new school term began for Wick High School and Newton Park Primary. A short video from Hub North Scotland highlighting the school facilities is available to view at https://www.hubnorthscotland.co.uk/news/2017/wick-community-campus
• The latest issue of “Energy North” from Scottish Provincial Press was issued in late May, and contained its usual mix of updates on key energy related projects in the Highlands and Islands. Included was an update on the first year of the Beatrice Offshore Windfarm programme from SSE’s senior project manager Steven Wilson and a review of the All-Energy Conference in Glasgow. http://edition.pagesuite.com/html5/reader/production/default.aspx?pubname=&edid=4fb5c305-9909-4030-bd1a-0ad7679d1bf6
• The latest issue of SubseaUK’s magazine includes a short piece on Scrabster Harbour Trust, amidst wider –albeit cautious – optimism that some stability is returning to oil prices. https://issuu.com/subseauk/docs/13052_subsea_uk_news-may17-issuu