Blog & News

Here you will find out all of our latest updates through News and Blog pages.


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Weekly update, 23rd July

UK Vertical Launch Sutherland:

Following last week’s major announcements concerning the vertical satellite launch facility proposed for North Sutherland, it is good to see interest and comment continue to appear in the press. I was particularly delighted to see the pieces in this week’s local press with Caithness Chamber’s Chief Executive Trudy Morris highlighting the work that has been put in from a number of CNSRP partners in attracting the opportunity to the north. It was also good to see the welcome given by Fraser Grieve of the Scottish Council for Development and Industry (SCDI). The projected £17M project is estimated to create significant job opportunities locally, regionally and nationally, and Trudy rightly highlights the important role our existing supply chain companies could play in any agreed project. (

Energy & Business Services:

After highlighting last week’s milestone for the BOWL project with first turbine installed and first power exported, progress has continued this week in the favourable weather conditions. As of midweek four turbines had been installed and commissioned, and have already begun generating power to the electricity Grid. The scale of work going on off the Caithness coast has been significant, with around 20 vessels on site, and over 100 workers leaving Wick harbour each morning in crew transfer vessels.

The Sykes at Home team were back in Caithness this week as their recruitment campaign for up to 100 homeworkers kicks off. We helped with meetings for them with North Highland College (to discuss some pre-employmen training support for applicants) and Job Centre Plus, and I was able to spend some time with them at Halkirk Highland Games on Saturday, as a more informal way of meeting local stakeholders – many thanks to Dounreay, JGC Engineering Services and Games Chieftain Lord Thurso for their fantastic welcome and hospitality. Look out for a radio advertising campaign next week on Moray Firth Radio, and for online publicity too. More on this next week.

Enabling Activities:

As the rollout of superfast broadband in the Highlands and Islands continues it is good to see more and more street cabinets appearing across the north. The latest two are in the Barrock area of Caithness, which has a more scattered pattern of housing typical of rural areas. To check whether you are able to receive superfast fibre broadband visit  and remember that services need to be ordered from a provider.

As mentioned last week, CNSRP partner HIE is running a 12 week business accelerator programme in Caithness, for companies in technology and science sectors. This programme is funded under the Northern Innovation Hub (part of the Inverness & Highland City Region Deal) and is run by experienced business coaches. The aim of this ‘Pathfinder’ programme is to save businesses time and money by facilitating an accelerated approach to narrowing down target markets and developing a commercialisation plan. There is a taster session at Caithness Horizons on Wed 22nd August – you can find out more (and sign up) at

On a similar note it was good to meet up with Nick Higginson from Wood, one of the companies currently bidding for framework contracts at Dounreay. As I have previously mentioned, Wood has recently established a technology fund in support of innovation in decommissioning, and I hope we will be able to help align this with the accelerator programme to achieve further benefits for companies.


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:

  • Myself and Simon Middlemas delivered two lunchtime presentations on CNSRP activities and plans to staff at the Dounreay site. The response on both days was good, with a very healthy level of interest and questioning, and I’m also delighted to have added more people to the list of those who now receive my weekly update by email.
  • I attended Friday’s excellent event in Wick that brought together a number of young entrepreneurs and businesses, and featured a visit from HRH The Duke of Rothesay. The event was organised by Caithness Chamber of Commerce, who are active in developing young entrepreneurs in the area through involvement in the Developing the Young Workforce programme, Young Enterprise Scotland and the NDA-supported North Highland Regeneration Fund. The event took the form of displays from many of the companies – a reminder to all those present just how rich our start-up products are in the area.