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Weekly Update, 7th June

Following last week’s meeting of the Partnership’s Executive Board I have been organising a workshop for the main partners, to be held in the last week of June. I have been discussing arrangements for this with NDA, HIE and Highland Council colleagues. We have also discussed other issues such as the socio-economic elements of the PBO competition.

I attended the event organised by the Babcock Dounreay Partnership to launch their bid for the PBO competition, and met separately with BDP’s bid manager to find out more about their approach to socio-economic issues and to pass on views on the issues we feel are important to this area.

Caithness Chamber of Commerce and DSRL continue to work out the details of a joint study with one of the main marine energy device developers to gain a more detailed understanding of their supply chain, skills and infrastructure requirements in the north. I have been discussing this with DSRL colleagues this week, and am meeting with Chamber of Commerce next week as this moves forward. This is a great opportunity for us to quantify local capabilities and address any gaps where they might currently exist.

I met with the Chairman of Scrabster Harbour Trust to talk about a range of issues relating to the Partnership and the regeneration programme.

Recent announcements regarding job losses at Dounreay have further emphasised the need to accelerate the partners’ work in identifying and securing employment opportunities for Caithness & North Sutherland. As part of this effort Roy Kirk’s HIE Area team has issued a call for external consultants to tender for work in targeting potential inward investors to the area.  The consultants in conjunction with the local HIE team will proactively target the renewable energy, business and financial services, and tourism sectors together with public sector job opportunities, and those job opportunities connected with the present multi-national supply chain companies already established at Dounreay. The team will also respond to enquiries in a range of other sectors. Deadline for initial notices of interest is next week.

HIE’s Area Manager has issued an update on the proportion of the additional £12M of funding announced by HIE for projects supporting the delivery of the Caithness & North Sutherland Action Plan. Approximately £5M of this has now been committed, with some £7M left for commitment.