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Centre for Energy and the Environment - North Highland College, UHI

19th September 2009

You may have read in the press recently about the exciting new capital developments under way at North Highland College, UHI, (see attached background information.).

As part of this development we would like to invite you along to Flagstones Restaurant of North Highland College on Thursday 24th September at 4pm to learn more about the new Centre for Energy and the Environment which will be build on the main North Highland College campus.

During this event we would like to offer you the opportunity to review the building design and functionality and provide feedback on our plans.

If you are able to attend could you please advise Ms Debbie Gray on 01847889206 or by email to: debbie.gray[AT]thurso.uhi.ac.uk

BACKGROUND
Despite the current unsettled political and economic climate there is a detectable air of opportunity and excitement in the North of Scotland.

The Highlands and Islands, with its extensive and diverse coastline, and seas exposed to strong winds and tidal currents, has some of the world's best natural resources for marine renewable energy. In recent years, the region as a whole, and the dynamic waters of the Pentland Firth in particular, have become a global focal point for the emergent marine energy sector. This presents us in region with unrivalled opportunities to develop these natural resources, grow new strands of economic activity and to play a key role in the energy markets and 'green economy' of Scotland, the UK and Europe in the coming years.

Our marine environments are of outstanding environmental, social and economic value. But, they are complex, changeable and often poorly understood and many challenges exist if we are to harness the potential of marine energy in sustainable manner. That is, a manner which maintains the delicate balance between the contemporary human need, and preserving natural resources and ecosystems, on which we and future generations depend.

At the UHI North Highland College's Environmental Research Institute we are committed to addressing these issues and to advancing our understanding of the sustainable use of our natural resources through research excellence and innovative scientific leadership. It is therefore timely and exciting that, together with our partners within the UHI Millennium Institute and across the region, we have been able to secure two major programmes which will help address these and many other pressing issues.

These projects, 'Marine Renewable Energy and the Environment (MaREE)' and the 'Centre for Energy and the Environment (CfEE)', represent seven million pound of investment from Highlands and Islands Enterprise, the Scottish Funding Council and the European Region Development Fund. These are transformational projects for the North of Scotland and clearly reflect a shared vision and common purpose amongst the funding partners.

MAREE will create thirteen new positions at the Environmental Research Institute and five more at the UHI Scottish Association for Marine Science in Oban. The new teams will address the resources and risks, environmental impact issues of sustainability relating to marine energy and will work extensively with partners throughout Scotland and world-wide.

The CfEE will be established on Thurso Campus of North Highland College to house this new activity together with other areas of our growing environmental sciences portfolio. The Centre will make a key contribution to the development of 21st century campus providing a dynamic academic environment that promotes a culture of aspiration and excellence in interdisciplinary research, teaching, learning and knowledge exchange.

Prof. Stuart W. Gibb
Director, Environmental Research Institute, North Highland College
UHI Professor of Environmental Sciences

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