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Weekly Update, 12th March 2012

I met with colleagues from HIE, Orkney Islands Council, Crown Estate and Scottish Renewables this week to discuss ongoing support for the Pentland Firth & Orkney Waters programme. A project plan has been drafted, and will soon be finalised. In the meantime HIE and Crown Estate continue to work together to improve knowledge of developer requirements in terms of both infrastructure and supply chain. This is particularly important as we continue to try to provide companies with realistic intelligence on opportunities in the sector.

Enabling activities:

The Partnership and Dounreay Stakeholder Group this week welcomed to Caithness Fergus Ewing MSP, Minister for Energy, Enterprise and Tourism. The Minister’s programme of visits included sessions with CNSRP and DSG; Caithness Chamber of Commerce Chair/ Vice-Chair and Chief Executive; Meygen; and Natural Retreats. The Minister and Rob Gibson MSP were able to see at first hand the work to support skills transition through the Chamber’s NDA/ESF and SDS funded “Make the Right Connections” programme, and also the first of the high-quality tourism accommodation facilities appearing at John O’Groats as part of Natural Retreats’ HIE-supported project. DSG and Caithness Chamber sponsored a networking lunch at the Castle of Mey Visitor Centre where the Minister met a range of local businesses and answered questions on a range of energy and tourism related issues. (see below for press coverage).

Wick Airport committeee met, and discussed numerous issues relating to the airport. Grenville Johnstone, Chairman of Highlands and Islands Airports Ltd, attended the meeting, as did representatives of Loganair, Ackergill Tower and Natural Retreats. There are a number of opportunities to raise the airport’s profile, and it was good to hear from Far North Aviation of the oil & gas and renewables traffic being serviced from Wick, and from Andrew Mackay at the Norseman Hotel of the positive local economic impacts these have. The new café operator at the airport (a business start-up through Business Gateway) received praise for the quality of service being provided. Following the meeting it is likely that I will work with HIAL, HIE, Highland Council and Caithness Chamber to address some of the issues raised.

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: