Weekly update, 24th July

Energy & business services:
• Disappointing news that the company behind the proposed floating offshore windfarm demonstrator off the coast near Dounreay has gone into administration. Dounreay Tri had proposed a project that would have seen an operations and maintenance base set up at Scrabster harbour for the lifetime of the project. Today’s John O’Groat Journal reports that Administrators have had a number of expressions of interest in the company. http://renews.biz/107931/dounreay-tri-sunk-by-funding-gap/
• It was good to take part this week in a very constructive meeting with Wick Harbour Authority and CNSRP partner Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) to review recent progress at the harbour and discuss opportunities for further development of the harbour’s capacity to benefit the area economy.

Wick Harbour, July 2017, showing CNSRP partner investment in Heavy Lift Pad and Marina, and showing progress with construction of Beatrice Ofshore Windfarm O&M base. (photo courtesy Wick Harbour Authority)


• The electricity grid infrastructure programme being led by SSE’s Networks business has reached a significant milestone in the north with the major new Thurso South substation going “live” – the upgrade programme in Caithness has provided a significant amount of employment over the past three years, and has also involved huge logistical considerations. The construction of the new substation has, for example, involved 80,000 cubic metres of fill material – enough to fill 32 Olympic-sized swimming pools. 75,000 metres of cabling has been installed within the site, connecting 240 items of plant, 72 control panels and 4 transformers. And the landing of two super transformers at Scrabster, which were then carefully (and successfully) transferred through Thurso to the site. More information is at http://news.ssen.co.uk/news/all-articles/2017/07/thurso-south-substation-energised/

Transformers for the new Thurso South Substation being transported through Thurso from Scrabster Harbour.

Enabling Activities:
• I met this week with colleagues from HIE and Dounreay to further refine our forward plan for support to help realise the opportunities (offshore wind, tidal, business services, nuclear services, North Coast 500) already identified for the 2017-2020 period.
• Scotland’s Towns Partnership is seeking applications from Towns, City Neighbourhoods, Business Improvement Districts and other town stakeholder organisations to participate in the national Digital Towns Pilot Programme, which is being supported by Scottish Government. This is a competitive process in which successful applicants will be awarded a combination of potential grant funding as well as access to a free and impartial “industry expert advisor” to encourage local strategic partnerships and to offer best practice advice around digital skills, participation, design, procurement and sustainability. More information on the opportunity is at http://www.scotlandstowns.org/digital_towns?utm_campaign=digital_pilot&utm_medium=email&utm_source=scotlandstowns

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 good to meet up today (Friday) with Councillor Nicola Sinclair, one of several new Councillors elected to Highland Council in May. We discussed the CNSRP Programme, what progress has been made, and wider issues such as recruitment and skills planning.