Energy & business services:
• It was great to be invited this week to take part in a visit to the area by Japanese nuclear industry and government representatives. The visit, coordinated by CNSRP partner the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) and supported by CNSRP partner Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE), included a visit to the Dounreay site to learn about progress with decommissioning and also gave me the opportunity to give a presentation on how CNSRP partners came together to address the effects of decommissioning on the area’s economy and communities. I was delighted at the huge level of interest from the visitors in this aspect, and excellent presentations at the Nucleus building in Wick from local supply chain companies JGC Engineering, Calder Engineering and Nuvia highlighted the opportunities being developed for our area to diversify beyond Dounreay decommissioning work and create further economic growth. The visit was supported by staff from the British Embassy in Tokyo, and the opportunities to export our area’s knowledge and expertise on decommissioning and economic transition are now likely to bear further fruit. (also see “Communications” below for information on the Scottish Export Awards 2018).
Nucleus – the building housing the NDA and Caithness Archives – was the venue for discussions with Japanese nuclear representatives this week.
• Next Generation (“superfast”) Broadband continues to be rolled out across the area via the HIE contract with BT. Castletown cabinet 2 in Caithness has recently gone live and this should benefit many of the properties in the Murkle area which are linked to the Castletown exchange. To check if you can access faster broadband click here http://www.hie.co.uk/fibre It’s important to remember that people need to sign up for the new, faster services with an internet service provider, as upgrades are not automatic. On a wider level an update on progress and future plans has been issued (at http://news.hie.co.uk/all-news/digital-scotland-superfast-broadband-reaches-more-highlands-and-islands-homes/) ,highlighting that access to fibre broadband in the Highlands and Islands has gone from 4% of premises at the start of the rollout programme to 86% today. And as I have previously mentioned here, BT itself continues to look at innovative solutions to enhance broadband access in areas like ours with the news that two communities in North Sutherland are being supported by BT Openreach to pilot “ultrafast” fibre broadband, which should deliver download speeds around 10 times greater than average superfast broadband connections. http://www.scotsman.com/future-scotland/tech/highlanders-dig-in-to-bring-broadband-to-their-rural-homes-1-4474849
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:
• The Women in Technology Awards were held this week, with Wick High School’s Chris Aitken shortlisted for Secondary School Teacher of the year, and Wick High School student Ellora James awarded the “One to Watch” award for her work in developing the award-winning “Envirocache” app (http://envirocache.co.uk/). It was great to see local efforts being recognised again at this level, and made more poignant by the recent passing of HIE colleague Joyce Maclennan, who did so much over the past couple of years to support Chris and his students through the Apps for Good competition in the Highlands and Islands.
• SSE’s Sustainable Development Fund, which covers the Highland area, has opened for applications from constituted organisations. The fund has supported a number of projects in the north over the past few years, and you can find out how to apply, as well as see examples of previously funded projects, at http://sse.com/beingresponsible/responsiblecommunitymember/sustainablefund/
• A reminder that applications are open for the Scottish Export Awards 2018, which are run by BQ in association with CNSRP partner HIE. The event, held in Glasgow in March next year, brings together businesses from across Scotland to recognise and celebrate their entrepreneurial exporting achievements as well as to encourage others to increase their export potential. Our area boast several excellent examples of exporting – notably but not exclusively in the food & drink sector. The awards remain open for applications until 22nd December at http://www.bqlive.co.uk/section/175/scottish-export-awards