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Weekly update, 21st June 2010

  • Took part in a marine renewables event in Edinburgh this week. It was focused on financial issues affecting the development of wave and tidal technologies and their associated infrastructure. One of the key case studies was Scrabster harbour, and Scrabster Chief Executive Rod Johnstone spoke very passionately about the need for port and other onshore infrastructure investments to informed by developer requirements. It was good to see the positive reception he was given, and also very encouraging to hear two of the industry-leading companies in wave and tidal technology give very open accounts of their continuing efforts to bring down generation costs as they develop their technologies.
  • I also took part in the Scottish Council for Development & Industry’s Future Skills Taskforce event in Linlithgow. This event brought together over 200 representatives to look at ways of ensuring our future workforces are able to respond to the rapidly-changing skills environment. The event was addressed by Keith Brown MSP, the Scottish Government Minister for Skills and Lifelong Learning, Damien Yeates, Chief Executive of Skills Development Scotland and by Graham Smith, General Secretary of the STUC. The focus was on how the future economy would require workforce transition at an even greater rate than at present, and how technological change would increasingly drive this process for existing and new entrants to the workforce. This link to a presentation from America on technology change is a stark reminder of how fast technologies are moving, and how fast some emerging economies will influence further change.
  • I met Scottish Government colleagues to discuss their ongoing contributions to the work of CNSRP. The Scottish Government’s new representative on the CNSRP Executive Board is Karen Jackson and she will meet key partner representatives next week.
  • I presented on the Caithness & North Sutherland challenges to an audience in Inverness this week. I shared the floor with a colleague from EMEC in Orkney, and it was useful to be able to show the potential opportunities available in the north as well as the already-known challenges. There is a huge value in raising the profile of our area elsewhere, and it was good to have had a positive reception from an audience elsewhere in the Highlands.
  • Our colleagues in Orkney have been discussing the fact that the current contract between the Scottish Ministers and NorthLink Ferries Ltd to operate ferry services between the Northern Isles and the Scottish mainland is due to terminate on 5 July 2012.  The Scottish Government’s aim is to have a new set of agreements in place from 6 July 2012 and work has now started on achieving that aim. A consultation on the Northern Isles links is underway at The lifeline link from Scrabster brings with it local economic impacts in Caithness, and it may be that reponses from Caithness would also be useful. Those wishing to respond can do so by filling in the questionnaire included as an appendix to the document available through the link here.