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Weekly Update, 28th November 2011


The Crown Estate held an event in Thurso this week to update the public on progress with wave and tidal energy plans in the Pentland Firth strategic area. Speakers at the well-attended event included John Callaghan (Crown Estate), Stuart Black (Highland Council), Roy Kirk and Norma Hogan (HIE), Pippa Goldschmidt (Marine Scotland), Dan Pearson (Meygen) and Louise Smith (Caithness Renewables). As a result of some questions and answers during the event there has been written follow-up correspondence to The Crown Estate from the Dounreay Stakeholder Group. The issue of an area-based staffing resource for wave and tidal development received coverage in the Press & Journal this week (not available online).

Meygen, the leaseholders of the Inner Sound tidal site in the Pentland Firth, will be holding two public information days next week to update on their progress with the draft Environment Statement to be submitted to Highland Council and Scottish Government. There will be visual displays, and Meygen staff will be on hand to answer questions. The events will be in the Mey Village Hall on Tuesday 6th December (9am-8pm) and Wednesday 7th December (9am-6.30pm)

Highland Council this week welcomed news from SSE that community benefit funding of up to £90M over 25 years is to be created through a Scotland Sustainable Energy Fund, and that community benefit calculations will rise from £2,500 per megawatt per annum to £5,000 per megawatt per annum (£2,500 for local community initiatives and £2,500 for the Scotland Sustainable Energy Fund to be used in Highland Council area). The recently-approved 76MW Strathy North windfarm in North Sutherland will be one of the first to  benefit from this additional funding, with a total lifetime benefit of up to £9.5M. SSE states that the Fund would be available “for organisations promoting skills development, community energy schemes and improving the built and natural environment.”

More at The Northern Times covers the story ( and suggests that the Sustainable Energy Fund element, to be spent within Highland Council area, will be administered by SSE.


The redevelopment at John O’ Groats continues, with news this week of the recruitment of two environmental artists to lead local consultations on a long-term artistic plan for the development. The first community consultation event will be held on December 14th – more information to follow on this event next week. In the meantime you can find out more on the Transform project at or at

Tourism Intelligence Scotland has published an online guide to using technology in support of business growth. The guide – “How to Shine Online” covers tips on to get the best from online social media and other technologies, and can be used by all registered users of the site at

Enabling Activities:

I was invited by the board of the North Highland Regeneration Fund to participate in a discussion on the Fund’s future strategy and operation. As I have previously reported the Fund has been successful in approving loan funds to local businesses, and is now considering the best use of its remaining funds.

I also met this week with staff from the Environmental Research Institute in Thurso to look at resource requirements for responding to the range and volume of calls for expressions of interest in various technology sectors.

Transport Scotland has announced that five firms will be bidding to operate the Scrabster-Stromness ferry route as the tendering process enters its “competitive dialogue” phase: they are Pentland Ferries; Northlink Ferries; P&O Ferries Holdings; Serco and Shetland Line (1984). Final tenders will be submitted in the New Year.

As part of an ongoing process of helping communicate progress with the delivery of aspects of our economic transition programme CNSRP’s partners work together to generate news stories for local, regional and national media. I also speak on a regular basis to individuals and organisations across the area to update on progress. This week:

  • CNSRP, with the kind support of DSRL, will open the office in Thurso tomorrow (Saturday 3rd) as part of the Thurso Christmas Fun Day. This will be the third year we have had members of the Partnership on hand to talk about current activities and answer questions from members of the public. The office will be open from 12pm-4pm and we look forward to seeing you!
  • Further coverage of the start of work on the Low level Waste facility at Dounreay, which has triggered the payment of an initial £1M to the Caithness & North Sutherland Fund, to be used to support community projects in the Dounreay travel to work area. Rob Gibson MSP is pictured cutting the first turf on site.
  • The Press & Journal covers the start of work to resurface parts of Wick airport’s runway. The essential work is expected to be completed by February next year. (not online)
  • Following this week’s Autumn Statement coverage, Highland Councillor David Flear has in this week’s Press & Journal urged Scottish Ministers to consider investment in the proposed upgrade to the A9 at the Berriedale Braes. (not online)