Meygen, the company behind the proposed 400MW tidal energy site between Stroma and the Caithness coast, has begun its consenting phase of work. I met with Meygen’s Environment & Consents Manager, who has been helped this week by colleagues at DSRL to circulate information on the company’s forthcoming public open days to gather comments on environmental impacts that might arise from the development. The events will be held at Caithness Horizons, Thurso (Thursday 30th June & Friday 1st July, both 10am-7pm) and Mey Village Hall (Saturday 2nd July, 10am-4pm). Further information can be found at www.meygen.com or through Meygen’s enquiries line on 0207 193 1397.
I also attended an exhibition held in Mey Village Hall by Scottish and Southern Energy Power Distribution to publicise its proposals for the electricity transmission network in the Gills area. As previously reported, in order to connect marine renewable sites in the Pentland Firth to the national transmission grid a series of enhanced and new grid lines will be necessary. SSE is proposing a phased programme of work to deliver a 132kV AC substation around Gills Bay, and new overhead lines between the Gills Bay area and Dounreay and Spittal. A second phase of work to deliver buried DC cable from a new HVDC Converter station at Gills Bay to a proposed HVDC switching station north of Wick, from where subsea cables would connect across to Peterhead. If connection quotes are accepted by developers then it is expected that phase 1 will be completed in phases between 2014-16. Further progress information on this project will soon be available at www.sse.com/gillsbay
Tourism, Food & Drink
I had a very constructive meeting with Tom Campbell, recently-appointed Chief Executive of The North Highland Initiative. NHI has been examining its future direction and business model, and is looking forward with some confidence to playing an increasingly important role in the delivery of economic benefit to the north. Its involvement in tourism (through North Highland Tourism Ltd) and food & drink (through North Highland Products), as well as the ongoing work in culture and the built environment (through North Highland Connections) represents a significant private and voluntary sector input to the overall economy. We agreed that its role in helping deliver aspects of economic diversification was potentially significant.
HIE announced today the start of the procurement process for the delivery of next generation broadband across the area. The ambitious multi-million pound programme will be delivered in phases, with contracts expected to be signed with the successful tenderer by July 2012. Press coverage can be read at http://www.johnogroat-journal.co.uk/News/HIE-to-take-first-steps-in-superfast-broadband-plan-09062011.htm
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: