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Council Welcomes First Marine And Tidal Energy Lease Awards

16th March 2010

The Highland Council has warmly welcomed the announcement today (Tuesday) that Caithness and North Sutherland is to benefit from the award of the first round of marine and tidal energy leases in the Pentland Firth.

A council delegation was in Wick for the announcement of the leases, with a simultaneous announcement being made in Orkney. A press conference was also held in Edinburgh by First Minister Alex Salmond.

Convener Sandy Park, who is Chairman of the Caithness and North Sutherland Regeneration Partnership's Advisory Board, said: "This is an important milestone in the development of marine and tidal energy in the North of Scotland. The Pentland Firth can emerge as the global focus for marine energy and generate a significant number of high quality jobs and clean green renewable energy."

Councillor Ian Ross, Chairman of the Council's Planning Environmental and Development Committee, said: "In the rundown of Dounreay, we see marine energy as a major source of regenerating the economy of Caithness and North Sutherland.

"This is the start of an exciting new industry. The council will play its part in maximising the benefits to the local economy and to local communities."

The Highland-wide Local Development Plan Main Issues Report, identified the Pentland Firth as an area for significant renewable energy activity and he envisaged scope for new industrial development in the area. Scrabster and Wick harbours were well placed to benefit from the new business by providing key support services.

Caithness councillors have welcomed the news.

Councillor Lady Thurso said: This is just the kind of good news Caithness and North Sutherland has been waiting so long for.

"We desperately need to replace the high quality jobs being lost at Dounreay and marine energy has the potential to help fill the gap.

"We must attract the support bases and supply chain to our area and maximise the benefits of this new industry through skilled jobs, better infrastructure and extended community facilities."