Another potential inward investor visited the area this week to look at sites relating to offshore renewables, further highlighting the interest being shown in our assets and infrastructure.
Transport Scotland has submitted a contract notice to the Official Journal of the European Union requesting operators to come forward to undertake the Northern Isles Ferry Services from 2012-2018, following consultation with local communities. As a result of these consultations, Transport Scotland will continue to specify the ports of Aberdeen, Lerwick, Kirkwall, Scrabster and Stromness for the provision of these services. A maximum crossing time of 90 minutes between Scrabster and Stromness will also continue to be specified. More at http://www.transportscotland.gov.uk/news/northern-isles-ferry-tender
I met this week with the Environmental Research Institute’s new business development co-ordinator, Helen Campbell, to outline the work of the Partnership, and to discuss opportunities to bring further economic value to the ERI’s already-important role. Developing a cluster of like-minded organisations and companies able to pro-actively work on opportunities is a short-term goal on which I will now work. The first step will be a meeting later this month of several interested organisations.
I also met with Sandy Mackie and William Calder of Scrabster Harbour Trust to hear an update on progress with developments. Phase 1 of the Trust’s development is underway, and the physical shape of the harbour is already changing. Work is progressing well, with completion expected next summer. The Trust is also examining its plans for delivering business/ industrial space at a site it owns at Scrabster Farm, as well as considering the potential scope of a Phase 2 development. I outlined some of the Masterplanning work proposed as part of the Highland Council’s “onshore vision” for the area, together with work just starting on a study into the “internal” transport infrastructure of Caithness and North Sutherland in relation to energy sector developments. On the latter point I attended an inception meeting this week with Council colleagues and appointed consultants AECOM to allow them to commence work on the transport study. The consultants will now carry out around 8 weeks of work, which will include contact with a number of local representatives.
This week I also attended a meeting between Highland Council officials and the Chairman and Chief Executive of the North Highland Initiative. The meeting looked at NHI’s ambitions for the tourism sector in the north, and how Caithness/ North Sutherland can be a “proving ground” for development of tourism potential in rural areas. NHI Chairman David Whiteford is also quoted in this week’s Northern Times on the subject of the price of fuel and its effect on tourism in rural areas. http://www.northern-times.co.uk/News/Rural-tourism-dependent-on-access-to-fuel-04102011.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: