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North Highland Onshore Vision Action Plan updated

19th November 2013

A key piece of work to maximise the onshore benefits in Caithness and North Sutherland from the anticipated upsurge of marine renewables has been updated to highlight progress already made and to set new targets for the year ahead.

The North Highland Onshore Vision was produced by The Highland Council in 2011 to support the development of marine renewable energy developments. This includes promotion of the areas attractiveness for business and of ports and harbours, maximising community benefits from new development and puts local communities at the forefront.

The purpose of the Action Plan is to ensure that there is a co-ordinated planning approach to the delivery of on-shore development for the marine renewables industry. It provides focus on key actions and gives information on timescales, lead agency and partners involved.

Members of the Caithness and Sutherland Area Committee were given a presentation yesterday (Monday 18 November) of the Visions Action Plan which focuses primarily on the land use planning of onshore development and it sets out 10 key projects and gives target dates for their completion.

This includes:

Continuing to work with Scrabster Harbour Trust to facilitate development of the Enterprise Area for which a road access feasibility study is nearing completion;

Reaffirming the commitment to pursue high speed broadband provision to support economic growth;

Taking the opportunity to investigate and address the demand for housing through the new CaSPlan (Caithness and Sutherland Local Development Plan);

Putting in place masterplans and design guidance for key areas of change and pursuing ways of assisting delivery of development.

In the Councils Programme Working together for the Highlands, the Council commits to working together for the economy, and to supporting the creation of quality jobs in the Highlands.

Leader of the Area Committee, Councillor Deirdre Mackay said: The North Highland Onshore Vision is very important as it ensures we have a coordinated approach to the delivery of development for the marine renewables industry in Caithness and Sutherland. The Action Plan sets out a clear framework so we will be able to monitor progress and respond quickly to any new opportunities. The work is mainly focussed on the onshore development that will be necessary to support wave, tidal and offshore wind power, the sectors that have been identified as priorities for the Caithness & North Sutherland Regeneration Partnership, of which The Highland Council is a key member.

This exciting shared ambition to realise the maximum development opportunity in Caithness and North Sutherland will keep us all inspired and focused. Personally I see the biggest benefit of the Vision is that it clearly sets out how we are helping local communities to benefit sustainably from the marine energy industry, whilst working to ensure that the special qualities of the area are protected and enhanced.

The North Highland Onshore Vision work is currently feeding in to preparation of CaSPlan the Caithness and Sutherland Local Development Plan - and at todays meeting it was agreed a further report be presented in February on draft contents for the key consultation stage, the Main Issues Report.


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