Blog & News

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Weekly update, 15th July 2013

Energy/ Business Services:

This week’s Press & Journal picks up on the ongoing work to develop radar systems that are capable of picking up and identifying aircraft movements and movements from offshore wind turbine blades. The technology was tested recently in Scotland with apparently encouraging results. This ongoing work – via UK technology company Aveillant – is being funded by the Aviation Investment Fund Company, which is a consortium of wind developers working together on the issue.

The final element of the Beatrice Works project takes place next month with a presentation by Allan MacAskill, one of the original developers of the Beatrice offshore wind demonstrator turbines in the Moray Firth. The event, which is sponsored by the Institution of Engineering & Technology, will take place in Caithness Horizons at 7.30pm on Thursday 22nd August.

Tourism, food & drink:

I met this week with members of Venture North, the group of tourism businesses that emerged from the Ambitious for Tourism Caithness & North Sutherland programme, and representatives of the North Highland Initiative (NHI), whose tourism and food/ drink remits provide excellent opportunities for collaboration. This was a great opportunity not only to hear of the exciting ideas being developed, but to explore where the two groups can help each other achieve overall objectives. It was good to see so much common ground, and to see such a degree of complementary activity. Part of the Venture North team is Caithness Horizons, who have this week been announced as one of the recipients of grant funding from Museums Galleries Scotland’s new Strategic Investment Fund. The funding of £22,654 will help develop an exhibition on the area’s Pictish and Viking heritage as part of the 2014 “Year of Ancient Ancestors” festival.

At the meeting we also praised the booklet published in June by NHI and The List magazine, with support from CNSRP partners HIE and Highland Council. “North Highland Larder” tells the story of food & drink from the area, and was launched at the recent Royal Highland Show. An electronic copy can be viewed at

Enabling Activities:

I met this week with the company carrying out background work for HIE and DSRL to further detail the area’s key skills capabilities. This information complements work already underway through the Make The Right Connections programme, and will provide important further evidence to support our discussions with potential inward investors.


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 chaired a meeting of the Partnership’s Delivery Group, where we discussed progress with our priority projects; considered recommendations on Partnership priorities beyond 2014 to be fed back to CNSRP Executive and Advisory Boards; and considered partner views on the current Marine Spatial Plan consultation for the PFOW area. Next week is the deadline for responses to this consultation, which can be viewed at
  • Following our presence at Dounreay last week to answer questions on CNSRP activities, I recorded an interview with Jackie Johnson of Caithness FM, again focusing on what opportunities lie ahead for the area over the coming months and years.
  • The John O’Groat Journal has been running features over the last two weeks to mark the 25th anniversary of the announcement of Dounreay being decommissioned. I worked with partners to provide a contribution to the final feature in tomorrow’s (Friday’s) paper. You can view the CNSRP contribution at