Blog & News

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


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Weekly update, 26th November and 3rd December

UKVL Sutherland:

I was delighted to take part in a discussion this week in Thurso with Trudy Morris of Caithness Chamber, the HIE team taking forward the UKVL project and UK/ US representatives from Lockheed Martin.As I have previously highlighted here, Lockheed Martin are one of the two industry partners involved in the project, and their vast experience of launch and satellite technology was clear as we discussed opportunities for the local supply chain as well as exciting opportunities to bring a long-term Lockheed Martin presence into Caithness and North Sutherland. Lockheed Martin staff were also present this week at the Engineering Industry day held at North Highland College UHI’s state of the art ETEC facility in Thurso. Students from Wick, Thurso and Farr High Schools joined NH College students in sessions with a number of local companies, so it was good to have the additional benefit of space industry representatives to highlight potential skills requirements and career pathways.

Energy & Business Services:

As it continues to seek ways of reducing costs for the tidal energy sector Simec Atlantis Energy has been awarded R&D funding of 1 M Euros to support its drive to reduce costs of the technology by adopting a shared export cable for the current array of four tidal turbines. The agreement for the funding support is with the European Executive Agency for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (EASME) via the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund(EMFF) and its Sustainable Blue Economy call for proposals.

The Moray East offshore windfarm project reached its financial close this week, confirming that the project is now entering its construction phase. As previously highlighted here, the long-term operations base for the project will be Fraserburgh harbour, but Wick harbour is likely to see some traffic during construction.

Enabling activities:

Last week I chaired a meeting of the steering group supporting the delivery of the UK’s first Newton Room at North Highland College in Thurso, and it was great to hear that local contractor Norbloc has started work on the conversation of the space in the College building.  For updates on the construction work take a look at the Twitter feed of the Highlands and Islands Science Skills Academy (

I was delighted to take part last week in the first of what will be a year of events celebrating ten years of Caithness Chamber of Commerce, which was rejuvenated in 2009 with support from HIE and Dounreay partners. It was good to talk to Donald Forsyth of Saffery Champness at the event. Donald is involved in the Highland branch of the Institute of Directors (IoD) , and he spoke about an upcoming  “99ers” event in Inverness that might be of interest to young entrepreneurs (the IoD sees “99ers” as people who have started their own business in the past five years and are turning over less than £3m. So called, as they can join the IoD for £99 in the first year).

Tourism Food & Drink

Delighted to see that work has commenced on the long-anticipated watersports facility on ground made available at Thurso East by Lord Thurso. Thurso East is acknowledged as one of Europe’s finest surfing breaks, and attracts numbers of internationals surfers each year,despite its lack of facilities. The construction of the building is being led by Thurso Rotary Club with funding from the Highland LEADER programme and the Caithness & North Sutherland Fund. It will house toilets, showers, a meeting room, an equipment store, a covered viewing gallery and a waste store.  The building is expected to be ready by spring 2019.


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:

  • Good to see that North Highland College UHI Principal Donald Macbeath presented up to date proposals to develop the NHC UHI Campus in Thurso at this week’s meeting of the Dounreay Stakeholder Group. The Thurso Campus is in a good position to build on the successes of its Energy Technology & Engineering Centre and the Centre for Energy & the Environment, whilst bringing other elements of its offering up to 21st century standards.

As we wait to see the outcomes of the recently-undertaken consultation into the Redesign of Health and Social Care services in Caithness, opportunities are being advertised to become Board members of NHS Highland – the link for applicants is here, with the closing date being 11th January 2019.