Weekly update – 31st July-7th August

Energy & business services:
• As I highlighted recently, the company behind the proposed floating offshore windfarm demonstrator off the coast near Dounreay recently went into into administration. Administrators French Duncan have opened a “data room” for potential buyers. Original project development company 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. http://renews.biz/107997/investors-offered-dounreay-data/
• With turbines back in situ in the Inner Sound of the Pentland Firth, Atlantis Resources this week announced that its MeyGen site has now generated 1GW hour of electricity to the Grid. CNSRP partners continue to work with Atlantis Resources to investigate the long-term opportunities to support the operations and maintenance of tidal devices. https://www.atlantisresourcesltd.com/2017/08/09/1gwh-generation-exported-grid-meygen-p1a/

Tourism, Food & Drink
• As the north continues to experience a busy tourism season (perhaps reflecting the ongoing success of the North Coast 500 brand campaigns), it is also good to see the cruise ship season at Scrabster going well. Last month even saw an unscheduled visit from the “Hamburg”, with 360 passengers. Scrabster Harbour Trust reacted quickly to ensure that the visit was able to go ahead: shore-based tours arranged with support from local organisations such as Caithness Horizons. Passengers were also able to see the Duke of Rothesay on his visit to Scrabster harbour that day to see the new “Boy Andrew” fishing boat and to visit the renowned seafood restaurant The Captain’s Galley. Last week also saw the arrival of the “Pacific Princess” with 600 passengers, and this week saw a scheduled stop by the “Prinsendam”, which carried 800 passengers. You can view the list of scheduled cruise visits at http://www.scrabster.co.uk/sectors/ferries/. Caithness Horizons is also in the news as one of the eight “must-see” museums in the Highlands. The accolade comes from online lifestyle site The Culture Trip, and Alex Crow’s piece also praises the Wick Heritage Centre, Laidhay Croft Museum and Strathnaver Museum – all in Caithness or North Sutherland. https://theculturetrip.com/europe/united-kingdom/scotland/articles/the-best-museums-in-the-scottish-highlands/ and next week also sees the first steps in plans by Caithness Broch Project to establish a Caithness Broch Festival, with two sites in Caithness being visited next week. Further information on the Broch Project’s Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/CaithnessBrochProject/photos/a.514694701907769.115229.513454328698473/1509176125792950/?type=3&theater

Enabling Activities:
• I met last week with the new Project Manager for the Highlands & Islands Science Skills Academy. Emma Robertson will help progress plans to establish the first “Newton Room” in the UK. With funding from the Inverness City-Region Deal, and based on a well-developed Norwegian model, this proposed space at North Highland College in Thurso will help engage young people, building enthusiasm for STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) topics. More info is at http://firstscandinavia.org/en
• Also this week Scottish Government Cabinet Secretary for Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform Roseanna Cunningham MSP visited Forsinard to officially open the new £2M Peatlands Research Centre, built by Thurso-based O’Brien Construction as part of the Peatlands Partnership’s “Flows To The Future” project. The Centre further emphasises the north’s role in taking forward research on the internationally-important Flow Country peatlands, with UHI’s Environmental Research Institute in Thurso being a key partner in establishing this as a centre of scientific excellence in areas such as carbon capture and climate change. More information is at http://www.theflowcountry.org.uk/about-us/flows-to-the-future/

The Flow Country from the new observatory, Forsinard, August 2017 (photo by Stuart Black)

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:
• The “Energy North” supplement of Scottish Provincial Press continues to publish a range of relevant stories – notably the latest edition focuses on progress with the huge £1.1Bn Caithness-Moray electricity grid project, which remains on schedule for completion in 2018. http://edition.pagesuite-professional.co.uk/html5/reader/production/default.aspx?&edid=13f11a20-a82e-4c81-ba64-457be5a69e55