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23rd July 2007


Highland Council's new leadership team visited Dounreay on July 20 to see how Scotland's biggest nuclear clean-up project is changing the face of the north Highlands.

Recently-elected convener Councillor Sandy Park was accompanied by the authority's new chief executive Alistair Dodds on a tour of the 2.9 billion project to decommission the fast reactor experiment.

They met UKAEA site director Simon Middlemas and discussed ways of closer working between the two organisations as the clean-up moves forward at pace.

The council has a key role in planning and economic development and is a lead body in the Caithness Regeneration Partnership set up to oversee the economic transition as decommissioning moves closer to completion.

Approximately one in five of the workforce in Caithness and north Sutherland is employed directly in the clean-up of the site but this will reduce to almost zero over the next two decades or so, removing an estimated 70-80 million a year from the region's economy.

The clean-up and demolition is also generating substantial volumes of radioactive waste and planning for the long-term management of this material is another major area of liaison.

Councillor Park said: "The decommissioning programme at Dounreay is high on the council's agenda, so it was important that we visited the site at the earliest opportunity to learn more about its impact, the future plans and the work that's already taken place to make the transition.

"We found the visit extremely useful. A huge amount of effort and money is going in to restore this part of the coast and that creates both opportunities and challenges for the community and the council.

"The council has an important role to play, not just in planning for the needs of decommissioning but in planning for the needs of Caithness beyond decommissioning, and the new administration will want to play a full and active part in enabling that to happen."

Simon Middlemas said: "We have stepped up the pace of decommissioning in recent years and made major inroads already in clearing away safely some of the legacy. The council is a key stakeholder in the decommissioning programme and I want to build on the good working relationship that has developed between us in recent years so that we continue to decommission this site in a way that commands the widest possible support in the community. I was delighted therefore to welcome the new leadership to the site and talk through some of the issues of common interest."

Photo - Simon Middlemas (left) with Councillor Sandy Park (centre), convener of Highland Council, and its chief executive, Alistair Dodds


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