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Weekly update, 3rd December

At last week’s Wave & Tidal Information Day in Thurso staff from Marine Scotland and Highland Council were present to talk about the ongoing work to develop a Pentland Firth & Orkney Waters Marine Spatial Plan. The pilot plan aims to develop a strategic decision-making framework for licensing and other consent applications in the marine area. The plan will seek to reconcile the aspirations of all users of the marine area including the interests of the marine renewable energy sector, inshore fisheries, shipping and navigation, aquaculture, the oil and gas sector, recreation (by locals and visitors) and tourism. Marine Scotland has now published a timetable for the development activities and consultation opportunities on elements of the Plan over the next 18 months, leading towards production of the final Plan in Summer 2014. The schedule can be viewed online at and reference copies are also availble at the Highland Council Service Points in Wick and Thurso. I also attended an event held this week by Scottish Natural Heritage, at which Chairman Andrew Thin and SNH staff met local stakeholders. Local press coverage was given to Andrew Thin’s views on the work being done by SNH to inform Marine Scotland’s assessments of applications from marine energy development companies.

The Department for Energy & Climate Change (DECC) has published a Nuclear Supply Chain Action Plan. Although the plan deals with new-build nuclear, which is not happening in Scotland, it also deals with nuclear decommissioning actions, including efforts to export decommissioning expertise. The Action Plan also contains actions of interest to local/ regional supply-chain companies that may become involved in new-build contracts in England & Wales.

Enabling Activities:
Following last week’s discussion on skills issues at the Partnership’s Advisory Board meeting I brought together a representative from a local company with those staff from Caithness Chamber, Skills Development Scotland, Job Centre Plus, Highland Council and North Highland College who have been working on an event to focus on future job prospects in the area. We agreed to work together to find ways of enhancing the number of skills/ training opportunities available to help local companies as they seek new business, and therefore additional workers.

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:

  • I delivered a presentation to a small group of Dounreay staff as part of the “Recre8t Yourself” skills transition workshop they were attending. I focused on where Partnership efforts were being prioritised in order to support future employment opportunities, and highlighted particular examples of existing companies growing, and potential inward investments to the area. The local paper also carries news this week of posts being recruited at Dounreay to support the ongoing decommissioning programme.
  • I have submitted an article to the “Energy North” supplement due to be published by Scottish Provincial Press this month. The article uses last week’s well-attended Pentland Firth & Orkney Waters Information Day in Thurso to talk about the interest shown by high school pupils in opportunities relating to the industry. Coverage of the event is carried in this week’s local press, with Sir Anthony Cleaver from CNSRP and HIE’s Audrey MacIver commenting.
  • The official opening ceremony took place yesterday (Thursday 6th) of The Pulteney Centre, the £3.8M community facility conceived and delivered by Pulteneytown People’s Project with support from a range of partners including Highland Council, HIE, the NDA and Scottish Government. The project was an early element of the CNSRP 2007-10 Action Plan. Past and present members of PPP carried out the opening ceremony, and deserve huge credit for the facility and the services it provides, but in particular the vision and tenacity of PPP’s Chief Executive Katrina Macnab has been an inspiration to many.