Blog & News

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


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Weekly Update, week ending 6th Sept 2019

Tourism Sector

Highland Council launches Visitor Levy Consultation

The Highlands welcome approximately four million overnight visitors a year, and another two million day-visitors, including from cruise ships.  The Council’s rationale for considering a Visitor Levy is that visitors should help contribute to the maintenance and development of the free public services and infrastructure they use. In the context of the Council’s budget pressures, the Council believes that revenue from a Levy could be used strategically to manage the impact of tourism and help the Council invest to ensure the region continues to be a great place to live and visit.

The Council has not yet made a decision on whether to implement a Transient Visitor Levy (TVL), also known as a Tourist Tax. In December 2018 it committed to consulting Highland residents, businesses and visitors on a potential scheme.

The Consultation, launched at the Environment, Development and Infrastructure (EDI) Committee on the 15th August, has been informed by detailed research into other regions’ and countries’ Visitor Levy schemes and the Council’s Pre-Consultation meetings with tourism industry stakeholders across Highland.

Running until Autumn 2019, the main Consultation consists of two components: an online questionnaire aimed at residents and tourism businesses, but also open to visitors; and targeted face-to-face questionnaires with visitors at locations across Highland, conducted by the Moffat Centre for Travel and Tourism at Glasgow Caledonian University.  A short video explaining the Council’s position and the Consultation including an online questionnaire are available at

Findings from the Visitor Survey, Open Consultation and research will be reported to a Full Council meeting on 12 December 2019.

Energy sector

Public Consultation for Pentland Firth East Subsea Cable Replacement.

For over 50 years, electricity has been distributed to the Scottish islands via subsea cables. As these cables approach the end of their scheduled operational lives, plans to replace them are being considered.  One such cable is across the Pentland Firth, between Murkle Bay in Caithness and Rackwick Bay on Hoy, which carries electricity to Orkney.  Ahead of an application to Marine Scotland for a licence to carry out these replacement works, there will be a series of consultation events to give local communities, fishermen, environmental groups and other interested parties an opportunity to offer views to SSEN and comment on the proposals.  The Caithness event is on Tuesday 17 September 2019, at Caithness Castletown Drill Hall in Thurso.

For more information visit:

General points of interest:

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 and keep an eye out for items that can support organisations seeking to improve the region.


Flow Country World Heritage Site Bid

 There is a Flows to the Future Conference at Eden Court in Inverness on Thursday 12 September, with an optional field trip to the Flow Country the day before. It’s a chance to find out more about the wide-ranging work of the project over the past five years, which has demonstrated how a nature-based project can bring significant social and economic benefits. You can find more details of the programme on the Flow Country website or Facebook page

Climate change

Adaptation Scotland, in partnership with The Highland Council has launched a survey: asking local communities and businesses to share experiences of how they have been affected by severe weather and climate change over the past few years.

The results of the survey will help identify local priorities that could be tackled if a new climate change adaptation partnership is established.

They are very keen to receive feedback from as many people as possible from across the Highlands and would be grateful if you could please share the link to the survey with your networks.

Support Network for Social Entrepreneurs

The Support Network for Social Entrepreneurs (SuNSE), a North-West Europe Interreg funded programme, will develop a network of social entrepreneurship hubs across North West Europe, to act as local points for stimulating community driven economic activity in disadvantaged regions. Partners based in UK, Ireland, Luxembourg, Netherlands, France and Switzerland will bring together expertise, support agencies, local authorities, universities and enterprise support specialists in a transnational partnership that will address common problems of market failure in remote communities.

SuNSE will support social entrepreneurs to start and grow social businesses (those which deliver social as well as economic benefits, regardless of legal structure). The project aims to reduce outmigration of ambitious individuals, by offering them supportive learning environments (in areas such as business planning, financial management, market awareness and commercialising opportunities), which will enable them to establish locally based social businesses. This will not only create career opportunities for the participating individuals but will regenerate communities experiencing market failures, through job creation and delivery of products/services vital to community resilience. In developing the social entrepreneurship hubs, SuNSE will test and trial new approaches in social business development, refining and adopting transnational good practice gained through the partnership.

The overall programme will result in a unique transnational network of collaborative organisations, working together to support social entrepreneurs and each other, a partnership that will continue well beyond the lifetime of the project.

Across the Highlands and Islands 4 hubs will be launched, one of which is in Sutherland.  Each Hub will run for an 18-month period, with the “physical hub” in operation 2-4 days a month supporting individuals to develop social business ideas and providing them with the business knowledge, skills and confidence to take them forward. The Hubs will focus on individual needs, strengthening and developing skills and business acumen. Participants will complete an 18-month journey with a well-developed business plan, appropriate commercial skills, market awareness and a network of support agencies to help them into the future.

The Sutherland Hub launch is on Thu, 5 September 2019 11:00 – 13:00 BST at The HUB (Kyle Of Sutherland Hub), Bonar Bridge. To book onto this follow the link below: –

For further information on the SuNSE programme, please contact



Social Innovation Competition Launch

Firstport’s latest Social Innovation Competition has just opened for applications.

This is an annual competition which seeks ground breaking ideas that tackle Scotland’s most pressing social and environmental issues.

There are three awards of £5,000 to be won, combined with tailored support to refine and develop the winning ideas.

The theme of this year’s competition is ‘Individuals Affected by Disability’ and is looking to support new and emerging social innovators to develop their idea to benefit this target group.

Successful entries will involve innovative ideas and solutions that support individuals directly affected by disability, as well as those indirectly affected, such as carers and family members.

The deadline for applications is the 16th September 2019 at noon.