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Weekly Update, 13th & 20th December 2010

  • The Partnership’s Executive Board met last week, and discussed the draft 2011-2014 Caithness & North Sutherland Action Plan. I will be making revisions to the Plan based on our discussions, and circulating a revised version aimed at honing down even further our priority activities. The NDA’s Jon Phillips also updated the Board on the National Nuclear Archive project, which has been the subject of some recent discussion. The NDA has confirmed that the project is not going forward to planning, but that it has not been scrapped. CNSRP Chairman Sir Anthony Cleaver agreed to write to the NDA reiterating that whilst the budget position of the NDA is understood in the current financial climate, he hopes that the NDA will maintain its commitment to the project and take that commitment into the wider review of its Information Management strategy.
  • I chaired a meeting of the Partnership’s Delivery Group this week, and the focus was upon current activities taking place to support the ongoing Caithness & North Sutherland Action Plan. We discussed the ongoing work on the DSRL Socio-Economic Plan, which will further help bring together all partner resources in support of our programme of activities. We also discussed plans to bring together all those involved in delivering elements of the Action Plan during 2011 to help drive progress and ensure that there is minimal duplication of effort in the process.
  • I met with a senior representative from Skills Development Scotland in Glasgow to discuss SDS becoming a more central part of the Partnership. SDS will be a key partner in supporting the delivery of elements of the Caithness & North Sutherland Action Plan, and it was good to have agreement on the value of involvement from its senior staff in Glasgow.
  • I have continued to work with colleagues at Caithness Chamber of Commerce, NDA and DSRL to support some of the preliminary works needed to establish the Skills Transition programme for Caithness and North Sutherland. A video conference with the Scottish Credits and Qualifications Framework staff has produced further support for the programme in the form of a framework for “recognition of prior learning”. This is a process by which learning gained through experience (rather than formal study) can be recognised and used. SCQF staff will help the workforce transition programme by focusing on this element of activity. The first invitations to tender for preliminary elements of the programme’s work will be issued this week by Caithness Chamber of Commerce.
  • I met with HIE’s Head of Innovation and Skills and a member of the Innovation and Skills team who have both been helping the development of the STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) project proposed for local schools in Caithness and North Sutherland. The two year pilot project will be led by Highland Council and is scheduled to start in Spring 2011 with funding support from HIE and from DSRL’s Socio-Economic budget. This project will involve industry figures coming into local schools to support learning, and will also support teaching staff with industry placements.
  • The Carbon Trust and HIE have announced they will be running an event in Thurso on 3rd February 2011 designed to help businesses reduce their energy costs. The half day event at Caithness Horizons will cover interest-free loans and tax incentives for energy saving measures, tips on energy saving, demonstration of free online energy management tools, arranging a free on-site survey for your business and a number of other areas of interest. You can book online at or email
  • Scottish Renewables has published the Winter 2010 edition of its online magazine “REview” with interesting articles on the review of transmission charging, the relationship between the renewables and oil & gas sectors,  and other current issues such as planning, Renewables Obligation etc. You can read these online at
  • Finally, the Partnership office will close on Thursday 23rd December 2010 and will re-open on Thursday 6th January 2011. From myself and Iona in the office here, have a happy Christmas and a prosperous New Year!