Applications from Meygen Ltd and Moray Offshore Renewables Ltd will go before next Tuesday’s meeting of the Highland Council’s North Planning Applications Committee. You can view the applications at http://www.highland.gov.uk/yourcouncil/committees/npac-comms/2013-03-19-npac-ag.htm
Good news this week that recent investment by HIE in local company Escape Technologies has helped create 4 new jobs, bringing the company’s staffing complement to 9 as it moves into new premises in Thurso town centre. The company provides IT infrastructure consultancy and support to local, national and international clients in the oil and gas industry, but has also diversified into the construction and renewable industries as well as nuclear. Company founder Mike Bain is originally from Thurso, and highlighted the available skills in the area as a key part of the company’s decision to invest. He also said that he sees further growth opportunities for the company. http://www.hie.co.uk/about-hie/news-and-media/archive/it-company-expands-workforce-at-its-thurso-base.html
I also spoke this week with Richard Stoneham of Aon Hewitt as the company consolidates its presence in Caithness following the purchase of the Pensions Administration Office from Babcock.
Tourism, food & drink
Events and festivals remain an important part of our tourism offer (and an opportunity for our food and drink sector). This weekend sees the Scottish Surfing Championships taking place at Thurso, and Caithness Astronomy Group is staging a “Wild Skies Weekend” this weekend, with events at Castlehill Heritage Centre tonight (Friday) at 6.45pm, tomorrow (Saturday) at Thurso High School at 1.30pm and tomorrow night at Dunnet beach’s Seadrift Centre at 6.30pm. Science 03 is again staging the Caithness Science Festival, with events running throughout Caithness until 22nd March. And on Easter weekend the Northern Nashville Caithness Country Music Festival will again bring large numbers of visitors to the area.
I participated this week in the stakeholder group for the Engineering, Technology & Energy Centre (ETEC) at North Highland College in Thurso. The ETEC facility is generally acknowledged to be the best of its kind in Scotland, and the College has taken innovative steps to develop an apprenticeship model that has the support of industry. It was good to hear from ETEC’s Alan Ogg about the progress being made in developing curriculum, and the productive relationships developed with Global Energy at Nigg and with SSE. We discussed steps to ensure the sustainability of the apprenticeship model the College has developed.
A reminder that Foundation Scotland, the organisation that is working on a “Caithness conversation” around the issue of how community benefit funds can be best used for the wider Caithness area, will be running open events in the area to help understand views on the issue, and to talk about examples of best practice in managing funds. Two “café” events (lunch and conversation) will take place next week: on Friday 22nd March, from 1.30pm-5pm at PPP’s new Pulteney Centre in Wick, and on Saturday 23rd March from 10am-1.30pm in the Royal British Legion in Thurso. In the meantime responses are invited to a survey in support of Foundation Scotland’s work on this issue: more information at www.npower-renewables.com/caithnessconversation
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: