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Weekly Update, 1st November 2010

  • This week’s main focus has been finalising a draft of the Caithness & North Sutherland Action Plan 2011-2014 so that it can go forward to the Partnership’s Advisory Board at its November meeting. The Action Plan has been focused down considerably, and revolves around the creation of sustainable employment opportunities through support from CNSRP partner organisations such as HIE, Highland Council (via Business Gateway) and NDA (via the North Highland Regeneration Fund) as well as wider Scottish Government support. Whilst the Plan’s main focus is on opportunities within the energy and business services sectors it will continue to describe opportunities within tourism, food & drink and other sectors relevant to our area economy.
  • I had a discussion  with Robert Orr (Skills Development Scotland) who is progressing the national “Skills Investment Plan” for the Energy Sector. We spoke about some of the very positive actions we are taking in our area to address both workforce transition and entrance into the workplace by young people. We agreed that our approach of connecting people, skills and opportunities is effectively a microcosm of the Scottish skills agenda, and therefore potentially of interest to other areas of Scotland. I look forward to the publication of the Skills Investment Plan. 
  • The socio-economic sub-group of the Dounreay Stakeholder Group met this week, and I presented a written update on behalf of the partners within CNSRP. The group welcomed the announcement of the Inner Sound tidal energy lease to Meygen, and also welcomed news of HIE’s successful bid to the UK Government to develop a pilot project on superfast broadband. HIE’s Keith Muir also presented to the group on the new “Nuclear Supply Chain Support in Scotland ” programme that has been developed by Scottish Enterprise and HIE. A copy of my written update can be accessed at
  • At the sub-group meeting Philip Behan of Babcock, the current Parent Body Organisation at Dounreay, announced support from Babcock for the Pensions Administration Office, which administers pension schemes from its base in Thurso. Almost two years of facilitated support will allow the organisation to modernise, consolidate its already strong position, and capitalise on future growth opportunities.
  • Several important opportunities for engagement will be held in Caithness next week.
    • On Tuesday and Wednesday (9th and 10th) the Crown Estate is running an open event in the Pentland Hotel, Thurso. This will bring together all the companies involved in the wave and tidal energy leasing round in the Pentland Firth, as well as representatives from Marine Scotland, Scottish Natural Heritage and others. The CNSRP Partners will be represented at the event too.
    • The Highland Council are also running two separate events on Wednesday 10th. The first is a drop-in session run by the Council’s Development Plans team as a further consultation on the Highland-Wide Local development Plan, and it will run in Caithness Horizons, Thurso, from 1pm-6pm. The second event is “Taking Care of Business” and is run by the Highland Council’s Procurement Team. It will focus on procurement and contracting opportunities within the Council, as well as on advice and support available through the Business Gateway service. There will be two sessions, both in Mackay’s Hotel, Wick, from 12.00-2.30pm and again from 5.00-7.30pm. Further details from