Scottish Government Energy Minister Fergus Ewing MSP has initiated a Government Taskforce to help develop offshore renewables (offshore wind, wave and tidal). The Taskforce’s first meeting was last Friday, and it aims to focus on ensuring developers provide good applications, and also on ensuring that the licensing/ consenting process deals with development applications swiftly. The taskforce will help companies planning offshore wind and marine projects speed this up, while maintaining vital checks and balances on their environmental impact. It will help developers to share best practice, ensure better sharing of data, and help improve communication between developers and key stakeholders. More at http://www.scotland.gov.uk/News/Releases/2011/10/28111208
On a similar topic, companies developing marine renewable energy gathered this week to share ideas and experiences relating to offshore wind, wave and tidal energy development. The event, hosted by Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) and Marine Scotland, is part of SNH’s Sharing Good Practice programme. The event aimed to allow SNH and MS to share the research, guidance and best practice on offshore wind, wave and tidal energy that they have been involved in over the past two years. In particular these include good practice information on wildlife survey and monitoring requirements prior to consenting and installing devices.
Following the recent meeting of CNSRP’s Delivery Group we have been developing a “Road Map” for marine energy in the north Highland area. Our aim is to capture clear, accountable actions that partners can deliver in the following workstreams: Consenting; Manufacturing; Installation; Operations & Maintenance; Support & enabling activity; Marketing. A draft plan is currently being discussed amongst partners, and will feed into wider Road Map work being taken forward through the Pentland Firth & Orkney Waters leadership Forum.
It was announced in Westminster this week that the MoD’s Vulcan Naval Reactor Test Establishment in Caithness will not be required as part of the MoD’s new submarine programme. Peter Luff MP, The Minister of State for Defence Equipment, Support and Technology, said that options for the future of the site are currently being assessed: he said “these range from placing the prototype facilities into care and maintenance while retaining the site’s strategic capabilities, to decommissioning the site and returning it to Nuclear Decommissioning Authority ownership. We will work closely with the Department for Energy and Climate Change, the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority, the Scottish Environment Protection Agency and the Scottish Government during this process.” The site, operated by Rolls Royce, provides employment for around 265 people, plus supply chain contractors. In comments to local press this week I have suggested that there may be a business case for Rolls Royce to remain in Caithness beyond Vulcan operations. We have also had the experience of close partnership working over the past four years in helping address the decommissioning of Dounreay, and we stand ready to help address the impacts of changing circumstances for the site. This important issue is now on the Agenda for next week’s Executive Board, and will also be discussed at the Advisory Board. More at: http://www.johnogroat-journal.co.uk/News/200-Caithness-jobs-in-firing-line-at-Vilcan-base-03112011.htm
I attended the Dounreay Stakeholder Group’s socio-economic subgroup this week and delivered my quarterly update on behalf of partners. Alan Ogg from North Highland College gave a presntation on the new Engineering Technology and Energy centre (ETEC) at the College in Thurso, and members discussed how best to communicate the area’s clear competitive edge in terms of skills development.
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: