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Weekly update, 17th December

Last week a number of local people were able to view a demonstration of a system designed by Nuvia and tested at T3UK near Thurso. The remote handling equipment, for spent fuel at a power station being decommissioned in Lithuania, is the product of two years of joint work between Nuvia and JGC Engineering Services. The testing of the equipment was made possible through use of the deep shaft at the T3 facility, one of the only facilities in the UK capable of hosting the work. One of the machines has now been successfully commissioned and shipped for installation.

The EU has announced the first recipients of funding from its NER300 programme. Two tidal energy projects on the west coast of Scotland are included: Scottish Power Renewables (€20.7 million for its Sound of Islay project with Andritz Hydro Hammerfest device) and Marine Current Turbines (€18.4 million for is Kyle Rhea project using its SeaGen device). Both companies also have tidal sites in the Pentland Firth, at Ness of Duncansby and Brough Ness respectively). Also this week Marine Current Turbines, which was acquired by Siemens earlier this year, announced the departure of its CEO Dr Andrew Tyler.

Caithness Transport Forum met last week – its first meeting since coordination of the group was taken over by Caithness Chamber of Commerce. The forum provides a valuable opportunity for transport operators and local organisations to meet and address key issues. Amongst the updates to last week’s meeting was positive news on the impact the arrangement between HIAL/ Far North Aviation and Chevron UK has had on passenger numbers and aircraft movements at Wick John O’Groats airport. Chevron’s North Sea Operations Manager told this week’s John O’ Groat Journal that the arrangement is “working out well”. The arrangement was put in place following the grounding of the fleet of Super Puma helicopters in the North Sea.

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 Delivery Group met this week, and I updated members on actions from last week’s meeting of the Partnership’s Executive Board. In particular we focused on our collective approach to key projects, and agreed our forward plans to support key projects in  2013/14. We also heard from Skills Development Scotland about its new online portal which provides access to information for employers on the wide range of advice and support available to help plan, recruit, train and develop company workforces.
  • The Highland Council’s Annual Performance Supplement was issued with this week’s local press, carried by both the Northern Times and the John O’Groat Journal. It carries a range of reports on Council activities, including one I helped prepare on progress with the Regeneration Partnership.
  • As mentioned last week, Scottish Provincial Press has published the latest edition of its “Energy North” supplement, to which I contributed an article on the recent Information Day held in Thurso on progress with marine energy. The publication is now available online at