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Weekly Update, 8th January 2010

This is a short message to update you on activities involving the Caithness & North Sutherland Regeneration Partnership.

This week I met with Trudy Morris (Caithness Chamber of Commerce), Anna MacConnell (NDA), Fiona MacPherson (HIE) and John Thurso MP to discuss the presentation of the area’s economic opportunities to attendees at the NDA’s Industry Day in Wick on 5th February. This will be our first formal chance to communicate directly with potential bidders for the PBO contract at Dounreay, so it is important that we are able to highlight areas in which any successful bidders would be able to help the future economy of the area.

I met with the designer working on the vision document for Caithness & North Sutherland. The style and branding of this will form an important part of our presentations over the coming months, so we are working with a range of local partners to get this right.

An updated version of the Caithness & North Sutherland Inward Investment Marketing Plan is now available to view and download from the CNSRP website at

The Scottish Government approved the enhancement of the Beauly-Denny electricity transmission line this week. It has received extensive press coverage, mainly due to continuing concerns over its environmental impact on sections of its route. However, the news is welcome in the north as a key milestone for the marine energy industry,  and CNSRP Chairman Sir Anthony Cleaver offered this response to the news on behalf of the Partnership. “This is extremely good news for the development of Marine Energy in the Pentland Firth. The electricity transmission network is crucial to the development of this new industry in the north, so we hope this will give considerable heart to the companies competing to develop both wave and tidal energy devices. With an announcement on those successful bidders due from The Crown Estate in March, I think we can look forward to significant progress this year with the programme to diversify the economies of Caithness and North Sutherland .” In addition I offered a brief audio comment to Moray Firth Radio news today (Friday).

On a similar theme you may have read the news today (Friday) that The Crown Estate has announced the successful bidders for Round 3 of its offshore wind programme. This includes a 1.3 gigawatt scheme for the Moray Firth, to be based around the Beatrice Field, where the two existing turbines are sited. This offers east coast ports and Highland companies significant opportunities in fabrication, assembly, operation and maintenance. Moray Offshore Renewables, the successful bidder, expects construction and operation to take place between 2015 and 2020, subject to relevant consents being received.