In the first week back at work following the Christmas and New Year period there was good news for the area in the form of two approvals to businesses from the European Regional Development Fund. The first was an award of £2.5M to Scrabster Harbour Trust to further support the development of Scrabster Harbour. This brings the total committed public sector funding for the project to £9.5M, following previous awards from NDA (£2M) and HIE (£5M). The second award – of £3M – was to Invicta Newpark, to support the proposals to develop biomass facilities at Georgemas and Forss in Caithness.
I met with colleagues working on the Skills Transition project for the area. A decision on the final element of the project funding is still awaited, but in the meantime Caithness Chamber of Commerce has been carrying out a tender exercise for preliminary works, so that this can commence as soon as the funding package is complete.
I met with colleagues from Caithness Chamber of Commerce and Caithness Partnership to review progress with the Town Centre Development project for Wick and Thurso. The project, led by Caithness Chamber of Commerce, has now secured the funding necessary to commence work, so adverts for a Town Centre Development Officer will appear in the local press next week. We also met with colleagues from North Highland College to review training and learning opportunities for retailers.
The CNSRP Connectivity group met this week, and heard an update from HIE colleagues on the ongoing proposals to develop superfast broadband connectivity in the area. A complex procurement process lies ahead for the project, but we were very encouraged at the approach being taken.
I attended the Dounreay Stakeholder group to provide an update on socio-economic issues to the members. I provide a quarterly written report on behalf of all the main partners, thus minimising the amount of work (and paper) required to keep stakeholders properly updated.