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Weekly Update, 8th February 2010

Working with colleagues at The Crown Estate, HIE and Highland Council as we move closer to the announcement of Pentland Firth Round One marine energy leases. I hope that a date for the announcement will be agreed in the coming week and that there will be an announcement event in Caithness

I brought together colleagues from Business Gateway, Caithness Chamber of Commerce and Caithness Partnership. We met to discuss progress with Business Gateway in our area, and also to make further progress with town centre marketing/ development plans. Caithness Partnership and Caithness Chamber of Commerce are working together on this, with help from Highland Council.

I met with NDA and DSRL socio-economic teams for a regular update meeting. We are working on a range of issues, so it is important to keep in regular touch. This week we focused on lessons learned from the socio-economic presentation given at the first of the NDA Industry Days, and looked ahead to forthcoming funding decisions. The Partnership has an important role in supporting applications for NDA socio-economic funds.

Together with colleagues from HIE I met a prospective investor to the area to present an overview of the area and the Partnership, emphasising how the main partners are able to work together to deliver support for economic development.

I was delighted to hear the announcement of significant investment at John O’ Groats: as you know the development of John O’ Groats has been one of the high priorities in the Caithness & North Sutherland Action Plan, and colleagues at HIE have been working hard with Heritage GB since the launch of the John O’ Groats Masterplan last September. Congratulations to Carol Gunn and her team for making progress.

Finally, many of you will have read this week that Sandy Cumming, HIE’s Chief Executive, has announced that he will be leaving HIE next month to take up a new role with the Scottish Government. Sandy has been a member of the Regeneration Partnership’s Executive Board since its inception in 2007, so we will undoubtedly miss his influence, and his support for our area. However, it is encouraging to note that Sandy‘s new role is to spearhead the development of offshore renewable energy, working across the public sector, so I hope we will continue to see him in the north over the coming months.