Advisory / Counseling Services News
The level of income required to afford a socially acceptable standard of living and to participate in society is ten to thirty per cent more expensive in remote rural Scotland than elsewhere in the UK. The report on Minimum Income Standard for Remote Rural Scotland 2016, published today (Wednesday 30 November), was commissioned by Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE), Scottish Enterprise (SE), the Rural and Islands Housing Association Forum (RIHAF) and the Scottish Federation of Housing Associations (SFHA).
Week commencing 21 November 2016 Energy & business services: Representatives of the Beatrice Offshore Windfarm Ltd were in Wick yesterday (Thursday 24th) to give a public update on progress with the project, and perhaps more specifically with plans to use Wick harbour as the Operations & Maintenance base for the project. The event was very busy, and it was great to be able to talk to key personnel involved in the project.
Leader of The Highland Council, Cllr Margaret Davidson is seeking clarification from Depute First Minister John Swinney about reports claiming that the Board of Highlands and Islands Enterprise is to be scrapped and replaced with a centralised committee. Councillor Davidson said: "If it is correct - it is totally unacceptable that the Scottish Government is to centralise the decision-making powers of Highlands and Islands Enterprise.
The chairman of Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) has said he is fully confident about the future of the organisation. Responding to reports this week, speculating about the agencies future following the Scottish Government's review of enterprise and skills bodies, Professor Lorne Crerar, said he had had absolute reassurance from Scottish Government that HIE will continue in its present form.
Week Commencing 5 November 2016 Energy & business services: · The vessel Olympic Ares arrived in the Inner Sound of the Pentland Firth this week to install the first of the turbines for the MeyGen tidal energy project. As previously highlighted here the turbine support structures and ballast blocks were successfully installed during October, bringing welcome work to the area through Scrabster harbour and local companies.
Week Commencing 31 October 2017 Enabling activities: Colleague Andrew Johnston, Director of the Highlands and Islands Science Skills Academy, was in Caithness this week, and it was good to catch up with him to discuss progress with the "Newton Rooms" concept, which has seen a network of facilities established in Norway to give practical, hands-on experiences of learning programmes in sciences. The development of the concept in the Highlands has been boosted by support through the Inverness City-Region Deal, and we believe that Caithness would make a fantastic first "Newton Room" venue in the Highland area.
The Highlands and Islands will see more fibre broadband coverage for homes and businesses into 2017, thanks to the early success of the region's Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband (DSSB) project. Fergus Ewing, Cabinet Secretary for the rural economy and connectivity, announced today (31 October) that strong take up figures mean that an additional £2.3m is being re-invested back into the project.
Week Commencing 10 October 2016 Energy & Business Services: The Beatrice Offshore Windfarm project is one of the largest private sector investments in Scotland, and to illustrate the sheer scale of the work the consortium has produced a short animation, which is available to view at https://vimeo.com/186162042 Also this week, lead partner SSE has broken ground on the site in Moray where the subsea cable from the Beatrice turbines will connect into the National Grid, ready for the date in 2019 when the project will be operational. http://renews.biz/104493/sse-breaks-ground-for-beatrice/ Tourism, Food & Drink: Last weekend's spectacular weather helped another successful "Taste North" celebration of local produce from Caithness and Sutherland.
Week Commencing 3 October 2016 Energy & Business Services: Further contract awards for the Beatrice Offshore Windfarm Ltd (BOWL) project this week, again associated with the construction phase of the project. http://renews.biz/104432/dutch-tool-up-for-beatrice/ and the planning application submitted to Highland Council by BOWL is also available to view on the Council's website at http://wam.highland.gov.uk/wam/applicationDetails.do?activeTab=summary&keyVal=ODFTGQIHJAO00 Good to see that the first foundation for the MeyGen tidal project was successfully installed in the Inner Sound of thePentland Firth overnight on Thursday/ Friday this week.
Community and independently owned shops selling groceries in remote and rural parts of the Highlands and Islands are being asked to take part in a survey into the role they play in sustaining communities. The survey will help understand the factors affecting rural shops, and the strategies that could be adopted to remain sustainable and adapt to changing market conditions.
You don't want to save so you won't want to read this item about credit unions. It is easy to do now in Highland and Islands now that Hi-Scot credit union is online with its services for savers and borrowers.
Week Commencing 26 September 2016 Energy & Business Services: Activity at Scrabster harbour has continued this week, as more ballast blocks are transported through Thurso from JGC Engineering Services Ltd’s base at Janetstown. These huge (c.
Amec Foster Wheeler has been awarded a contract to design and build a new effluent treatment plant at Dounreay. The agreement signals a landmark move for the Caithness site as the first to incorporate socio-economic commitments following the introduction of a new procurement policy earlier this year.
In a report by Scottish Government published earlier in 2016 entitled "Scotland's Credit Unions - Investing in Our Future" The First Minister Nicola Sturgeon wrote a letter to employers as follows - Dear As First Minister of Scotland I am delighted to be able to offer this letter in support of the work of credit unions and at the same time encourage the uptake of payroll deduction schemes for employees with credit union accounts. Credit unions make an invaluable contribution to providing financial services and products to a wide range of customers.
Week Commencing 19th September 2016 Energy & Business Services: * Representatives from the Beatrice Offshore Windfarm consortium were in Wick last week to formally unveil plans to transform two historic buildings at Wick harbour into the Operations & Maintenance base for the project. A planning application for the plans was submitted to CNSRP partner Highland Council this week.
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Week Commencing 12th September 2016 Energy & Business Services: Representatives from the Beatrice Offshore Windfarm consortium were in Wick this week to formally unveil plans to transform two historic buildings at Wick harbour into the Operations & Maintenance base for the project. For photos, (see my online blog, address below) The drop-in event was very busy with interested members of the public (estimated at around 150), and the comments I heard in the room were overwhelmingly positive.
Optimism from Scotland's wave and tidal energy sectors, fuelled by the Meygen's product launch on Monday, boosted delegates at Scottish Renewables' Marine Conference in Inverness this week. Recent successes from Scotrenewables, Nova Innovation and Sustainable Marine Energy have been complemented by the launch of the world's largest tidal stream energy scheme.
A survey of businesses in the Highlands and Islands has reported that although companies remain optimistic about their own prospects, there has been a decline in confidence in Scotland's economic outlook since the UK's EU referendum. A total of 1,054 businesses located throughout the region took part in the survey carried out by Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) in July and August, exploring business confidence and investment.
Week Commencing 5 September 2016 Energy & Business Services: · It is good to note that recruitment has now started for staff who will take forward the operations and maintenance of the Beatrice offshore Windfarm Ltd development at Wick, with lead partner SSE advertising the posts of Contract Lead, Asset Engineer and Operations Engineer. These are the first publicly advertised positions to become available, and we hope that over the coming 12 to 18 months the recruitment of O&M personnel will ramp up.