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Weekly update, 27th August

An artistist impression of the proposed Spaceport on the Moine, north Sutherland (image courtesy Perfect Circle PV)

UKVL Sutherland:

Today (Friday) marks Roy Kirk’s last day as Area Manager for HIE in Caithness and Sutherland, as he will move next week to become full-time director for the Sutherland Spaceport project. Following Roy’s move I have been offered (and accepted) the role of acting Area Manager for Caithness and Sutherland, which in the short term I will take forward in addition to my CNSRP work. I’m really looking forward this additional role, and even in the last few days have been reminded of how much great work is going on across the area!

Enabling activities:

Following last week’s taster session in Thurso it is good to hear that there will be a group of local businesses going forward into the Pathfinder Accelerator programme run by HIE with funding from the Inverness & Highland City-Region Deal. The programme is specifically designed to help companies and start-ups develop novel business ideas and dramatically reduce the time and expense it normally takes to test the commercial viability of these ideas.  There is still time to apply, and any businesses or entrepreneurs interested in applying to take part can find out more information at


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:

  • As schools return for the academic year, it is good to see this recent report on positive school-leaver destinations from Wick High School’s catchment area, which have increased substantially from previous years with 95.6% classed as being in positive destinations during 2016/17. More information is at
  • Some very sad news this week, with the announcement of the sudden death of prominent Caithness businessman John Sutherland. He is perhaps best known for his Caithness Stone Industries company, which has helped turn the flagstone industry in the north back into a thriving sector. But over the years he has run businesses in the leisure, services and other sectors, as well as having served on the board of Wick Harbour Authority. I met him most recently at the recruitment event being run by Sykes at Home, and we talked about the changes that the rollout of fibre broadband were making to opportunities for people.