Summary of Meeting – jobs and infrastructure progressing
Companies in the north continue to invest in business growth, and key infrastructure investments continue to make progress.
That was the view from members of the Advisory Board to the Caithness & North Sutherland Regeneration Partnership (CNSRP) when they met last week.
Members heard from Scottish Hydro Electric Transmission about progress with the overall upgrading of the north of Scotland electricity transmission grid. This programme (worth over £400 million in Caithness alone) is currently focused on key infrastructure projects at Spittal, Mybster and Thurso.
The programme is providing temporary employment for almost 700 workers, with some of these employment opportunities likely to be in 2016. The Programme is scheduled to be completed by 2018, with a number of permanent jobs required to operate and maintain the enhanced facilities. SSE is also investing in training provision with the University of the Highlands and Islands, and members suggested that a formal relationship with North Highland College could help students to access job opportunities arising from the work.
Members also heard an update from the CNSRP Programme Manager on progress with the CNSRP Programme. Companies have committed to the creation or retention of 248 full-time equivalent jobs since April 2014. Members also welcomed progress with key projects such as the NDA Nuclear Archive in Wick, where groundworks are well underway, and the rollout of superfast broadband, where over 10,000 premises in the area are now able to order services.
The reopening of Thurso Library, together with other current capital investments in the area by Highland Council, was also welcomed.
The launch of the “Developing the Young Workforce” initiative, managed by Caithness Chamber of Commerce, was welcomed as an important step forward in preparing young people to take advantage of opportunities for employment.
An early start to the Public Local Inquiry on the proposed A9 trunk road improvement scheme at Berriedale was welcomed, with the hope expressed that a satisfactory resolution could be reached to the submitted objection.
The CNSRP Advisory Board meets quarterly under the Chairmanship of the Highland Council. It brings together Councillors, MP, MSP, business groups, community representatives and trades unions, as well as other bodies such as The Crown Estate, SNH, North Highland College UHI and Job Centre Plus.
Members are able to comment on progress, highlight areas of concern and suggest amendments or additions to the CNSRP Programme. These discussions may enable debate on the overall direction of the Programme (to take account of changing economic circumstances) or help agree priorities within the Programme.