At last week’s Wave & Tidal Information Day in Thurso staff from Marine Scotland and Highland Council were present to talk about the ongoing work to develop a Pentland Firth & Orkney Waters Marine Spatial Plan. The pilot plan aims to develop a strategic decision-making framework for licensing and other consent applications in the marine area. The plan will seek to reconcile the aspirations of all users of the marine area including the interests of the marine renewable energy sector, inshore fisheries, shipping and navigation, aquaculture, the oil and gas sector, recreation (by locals and visitors) and tourism. Marine Scotland has now published a timetable for the development activities and consultation opportunities on elements of the Plan over the next 18 months, leading towards production of the final Plan in Summer 2014. The schedule can be viewed online at http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Publications/2012/11/4241/downloads and reference copies are also availble at the Highland Council Service Points in Wick and Thurso. I also attended an event held this week by Scottish Natural Heritage, at which Chairman Andrew Thin and SNH staff met local stakeholders. Local press coverage was given to Andrew Thin’s views on the work being done by SNH to inform Marine Scotland’s assessments of applications from marine energy development companies.
The Department for Energy & Climate Change (DECC) has published a Nuclear Supply Chain Action Plan. Although the plan deals with new-build nuclear, which is not happening in Scotland, it also deals with nuclear decommissioning actions, including efforts to export decommissioning expertise. The Action Plan also contains actions of interest to local/ regional supply-chain companies that may become involved in new-build contracts in England & Wales. http://www.decc.gov.uk/en/content/cms/meeting_energy/nuclear/new/supply_skills/supply_skills.aspx
Following last week’s discussion on skills issues at the Partnership’s Advisory Board meeting I brought together a representative from a local company with those staff from Caithness Chamber, Skills Development Scotland, Job Centre Plus, Highland Council and North Highland College who have been working on an event to focus on future job prospects in the area. We agreed to work together to find ways of enhancing the number of skills/ training opportunities available to help local companies as they seek new business, and therefore additional workers.
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: