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Weekly update, 3rd September 2012

A prospective inward investor in the energy sector visited the area this week, and I was invited by colleagues at HIE to take part in discussions with representatives on the area’s assets and business infrastructure. As previously reported Dounreay’s June Love has been seconded on a part-time basis to HIE to support the ongoing programme of inward investment activity.

Moray Offshore Renewables Ltd (MORL) has submitted its application to Marine Scotland for consent to develop offshore wind power at three sites in the outer Moray Firth. The sites – called Telford, Stevenson and McColl – are some 22km (13.5 miles) from the Caithness coast. The developments could, if consented, see the construction and operation of between 189-339 turbines with a total installed generation capacity of 1,500MW. These plans are in addition to the already-submitted application from Beatrice Offshore Windfarm Ltd (BOWL) for consent to install and operate between 142-277 turbines at an area some 13.5km (8 miles) from the Caithness coast, and with a total installed generation capacity of 1,000MW.

Natural Retreats, the company leading the development of high quality visitor facilities at John O’Groats, has unveiled a new rigid-inflatable boat (RIB) to provide wildlife tours for visitors to John O’ Groats. The Natural Explorer is the latest part of the overall development programme at John O’ Groats, with the first accommodation units on the site now also open for business following support from CNSRP partner HIE.

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:

  • The Partnership’s Executive Board meets next week. Strategic developments such as HIE’s 2020 vision for Caithness and North Sutherland and Dounreay’s Socio-economic Development Plan for 2012-15 will be discussed, as well as separate updates on strategic transport issues and on project-level priorities. I am also preparing to hold a meeting of the Partnership’s Delivery Group at which our wider delivery programme will be reviewed and updated in light of these two Plans from HIE and Dounreay, and the Highland Council’s published Programme for 2012-2017.
  • Following last week’s official opening of the North Highland College’s ETEC and CfEE facilities by First Minister Alex Salmond MSP the Caithness Courier carries further coverage of the visit, focusing on the students and apprentices who are using the two facilities. (not online)
  • Caithness Chamber of Commerce’s call for key sites in the north to be prioritised in the forthcoming roll-out of superfast broadband has received coverage in local and trade press.
  • Following the announcement of the four companies competing for the Scottish Government’s Saltire Prize, the John O’Groat Journal carries coverage of CNSRP’s welcome for the news that three of the four sites are off the coasts of Caithness and North Sutherland.
  • I have prepared and submitted an article to the forthcoming “Energy North” supplement published by Scottish Provincial Press. The supplement will be published later this month.