Weekly update, 2nd July
Energy & Business Services:
- Further evidence that the Beatrice Offshore Windfarm project is moving from its construction phase to its operations and maintenance (O&M) phase, with this week’s announcement that SeaCat Services has signed a further two-year charter contract with Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy to provide O&M support to its activities for the Beatrice project. The contract will see sister vessels Seacat Mischief (arriving August 2018) and Seacat Magic (arriving April 2019) becoming the third and fourth Seacat crew transfer vessels to be based out of Wick harbour. As I have previously mentioned here Seacat Services is currently seeking skilled crew for its vessels. http://www.seacatservices.co.uk/news/
- And as Wick harbour continues to become busier it is good to see that Wick Harbour Authority last week unveiled its new website, which was designed by Kenny McArthur of Caithness-based North Design. Have a look at it at https://www.wickharbour.co.uk/
- Following last week’s launch of a recruitment campaign in Caithness and Sutherland by global company Sykes, we held an update call this week with HIE colleagues, and heard that the company has been delighted with the level of enquiries so far in response to the opportunity for homeworking. There will be further opportunities for people who were not able to attend the recruitment event in Thurso to register an interest, and I will post details on that as soon as I have them.
Tourism, food & drink:
- Last Sunday saw the latest cruise ship visit to Scrabster Harbour this season, with the arrival of the Silver Wind. There are a further three scheduled visits during July, and it was good to see visitors enjoying the prolonged spell of great weather we have been enjoying! (see my online blog for photo of the ship).
The Silver Wind was the latest ship to visit Scrabster harbour in the 2018 cruise ship season.
Also heartening to read a story in today’s local press about the current impacts and future potential of tourism in the area. Local businesses are welcoming an excellent start to the main tourism season, identifying the North Cost 500 as a key reason for visits to the area (https://www.johnogroat-journal.co.uk/News/NC500-factor-helps-Caithness-tourist-season-get-off-to-a-positive-start-05072018.htm)
- CNSRP partner Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) is carrying out a survey to understand young people’s views on the region in order that they can make the Highlands and Islands a better place to live, work and study. This follows on from a similar survey carried out in 2015. As a thank you there are some fantastic prizes available to lucky participants, including Belladrum and Groove Loch Ness tickets. For more information and to take part (if you are between 15-30 years of age) see http://news.hie.co.uk/all-news/caithness-and-sutherland-young-people-encouraged-to-complete-survey/
- Scottish Government has this week announced the procurement of a £25M project to address mobile “not spots” – areas where 4G coverage isn’t available. The programme, which was announced by Cabinet Secretary Fergus Ewing MSP at this year’s Convention of The Highlands and Islands – will help build new masts at an initial 16 sites, with a total of 60-70 sites identified across the project. The closest of the initial sites to us is the area around Kinlochbervie in NW Sutherland, and we look forward to hearing more about the other “infill” sites. More at https://news.gov.scot/news/improving-mobile-coverage-2
- There are currently two consultations taking place that will have important implications for future offshore energy projects in Scotland. Marine Scotland is currently carrying out a scoping study to identify suitable sites for future offshore wind developments (http://www.gov.scot/Resource/0053/00536637.pdf), and it is interesting to see how many of the “Areas of Search” are around the deeper waters in Moray Firth/ Orkney/ North Sutherland, where floating offshore developments might offer potential. And I have previously written about the intention of Crown Estate Scotland to carry out a further round of offshore leasing. In May CES published a very clear document setting out its initial thinking, offering industry and stakeholders the chance to comment (http://www.crownestatescotland.com/maps-and-publications). As current offshore wind projects such as Beatrice make progress, it is good to see that planning for the next ten years of growth is well underway.
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 latest in a series of articles I am contributing to the John O’ Groat Journal and Caithness Courier appeared this week in the Caithness Courier. It focused on young people’s voices, and the increasing evidence that young people in the north are becoming more confident in expressing their views on the future (see also Enabling Activities above for how young people can get involved).
- Good to see the 2017/18 annual socio-economic report for Dounreay published. Our partners at Dounreay have been very important to the progress made this year on CNSRP projects, and you can read more at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/socio-economic-support-for-communities-near-dounreay
- CNSRP partner Highland Council has begun the process of recruiting a new Chief Executive following the announcement last month that current Chief Executive Steve Barron will retire from the post later this year. https://www.highland.gov.uk/news/article/11148/search_begins_for_new_chief_executive