Blog & News

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Weekly update, 5th February

Energy & business services:

Staff from AGM Batteries were represented at a business breakfast event this week (see communications below), and it is great to see their recent success recognised in today’s John o’ Groat Journal. The company, which is based on Thurso’s Business Park, has been awarded a £1.48 million grant through the UK Government’s Faraday Battery Challenge. It will reinforce AGM’s pivotal role in developing innovative battery solutions for the next generation of electric vehicles, which has already attracted high-value jobs into the area economy. Since its takeover in 2014 by current owners the company has been working closely with CNSRP partner Highlands and islands Enterprise to support its growth plans.

The MeyGen project, delivered by Atlantis Resources Ltd, is now delivering tidal power in the Pentland Firth.

Atlantis Resources has issued a new Bond, hoping to raise around £5M from investors to support its projects. As previously mentioned here the company has entered into partnership with the CFG Alliance, and its owner Sanjeev Gupta is the subject of a fascinating interview in last week’s The Scotsman. It highlights his role in the renaissance in Fort William, as CFG relaunches the facility there as the Liberty British Aluminium smelter, and attracts a related alloy wheels business to the site.

As the Subsea Expo delegates gather in Aberdeen this week it is interesting to see the publication of a report into future opportunities in the Offshore Floating Assets market, where smaller-scale niche opportunities might be available to ports in the Highlands and Islands

Enabling activities:

The scheme to upgrade the A9 Trunk Road at Berriedale Braes has taken another step forward with the announcement that four bidders for the work will enter into a competitive dialogue process with Transport Scotland, which is expected to last until summer this year, with work expected to get underway later in 2018. The four bidders are RJ Macleod (Contractors) Ltd, Morrison Construction, Roadbridge UK and Wills Bros Civil Engineering Ltd.

CNSRP partner Caithness Chamber of Commerce (who manage both the Caithness Transport Forum and the Wick John O’ Groats Airport Consultative Committee) has commissioned Aviation Economics to conduct an independent assessment of the potential for air services from Wick JOG Airport. This could be an important piece of work in what is a challenging economic landscape for regional carriers and regional airports, so we are looking for as many people as possible to help by completing the survey. You can access the survey at

Our local CNSRP partners had one final catch-up this week before tomorrow’s annual “Jobs and How To Get Them” event at Wick High School. These events have become well established in the calendar over the last five years, and have attracted several hundred attendees, together with over 40 exhibiting businesses and support organisations. Tomorrow’s event looks no different, and we look forward to having the welcome presence from the likes of Siemens Gamesa, who are recruiting roles for the Beatrice Offshore Windfarm project. I hope we might see you tomorrow between 10am and 2pm!

The event is an annual multi-agency initiative.

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:

Caithness Chamber of Commerce ran a well-attended business breakfast in Thurso this week, which gave David Oxley, Director of Business & Sector Development at CNSRP partner Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) a chance to talk to local businesses about current and future work, as well as talking about the wider work of HIE in the region. It was great to see such a good range of businesses represented.

It has been a good few months for the north’s cultural sector, with positive funding endorsements of North Lands Creative Glass and Timespan by Creative Scotland. Lyth Arts Centre, another high-quality facility, starts its first programme under the management of new co-directors Tom Barnes and Charlotte Mountford with an open evening next Friday night (16th Feb) at 5.30pm – well worth a trip to Lyth to find out more about the coming season’s programme! More info at