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Prince Charles Attends Pentland Firth Planning Event At Castle

17th August 2010

The Duke of Rothesay has attended a workshop at the Castle of Mey looking at future opportunities for marine energy in Caithness and North Sutherland.

The event was jointly organised by The Prince's Foundation for the Built Environment and the North Highland Initiative in association with the partners in the Caithness and North Sutherland Regeneration Partnership.

Representatives from local organisations, marine energy developers and public bodies focused on what the area might need to support the expected arrival of wave and tidal technology developers working on plans to generate power from the Pentland Firth.

Hank Dittmar, Chief Executive of The Prince's Foundation for the Built Environment said: "With our partners, and as part of the North Highland Initiative, The Prince's Foundation was pleased to facilitate this workshop at which local representatives joined forces with marine developers and other interested parties, helping to establish a broad-based platform from which to plan for the growth of the industry and to maximise the long-term, onshore benefits. HRH, The Duke of Rothesay, visited the event to listen to some of the discussions taking place, combining his well-documented interest in renewable energy with a deep regard for the special qualities of the North Highlands and its communities."

David Whiteford, Chairman of the North Highland Initiative, commented:

"The Duke of Rothesay's North Highland Initiative was delighted to have been one of the primary driving forces behind this unique event where traditional Food, Farming and Tourism sectors were able to sit down with the incoming renewables industry and make a start on developing an integrated supply chain for marine energy that helps the area's economy prosper in a sustainable fashion. In addition it was heartening to hear discussions on how some of the historically valuable but currently redundant traditional buildings within Caithness and North Sutherland might be used in the future by the renewables industry for modern purposes."

CNSRP, which combines the expertise of HIE, The Highland Council, the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) and the Scottish Government, was formed to develop close partnership working.

Jim Mackinnon, Chief Planner at The Scottish Government, said: "This event demonstrated the need to carefully manage the transformational opportunities in renewable energy in the waters around the North Highlands and harness the distinctive potential and qualities of this special part of Scotland. Positive and imaginative planning - involving everyone who has interest in this area - can make a major contribution to delivering sustainable economic growth that could bring benefits not just locally, but to the Highlands generally and Scotland as a whole. There is an opportunity to support and sustain an approach to rural development which will attract international interest."

Cllr Ian Ross, Chairman of the Highland Council's Planning Environment and Development Committee and member of the CNSRP Advisory Board, said:

"The Highland Council was pleased to be a co-sponsor of this important workshop. The Council is committed to realising the benefits of wave and tidal development in the Pentland Firth and Orkney Waters for Caithness and North Sutherland and the wider region. We want to provide a planning context which shows we are open for business and able to accommodate the needs of this new industry. The workshop was a significant milestone in this process."

Roy Kirk, HIE's Area Manager for Caithness and Sutherland said: "Within Caithness and Sutherland there are significant opportunities to grow the economy associated with developments in the marine renewables sector in and around the Pentland Firth. HIE staff are already speaking to a number of potential inward investors and developers who welcome the type of open dialogue experienced at the event at the Castle of Mey where there is a genuine drive to get real on the ground action. As well as attracting Inward Investors, there are also real opportunities for businesses based in the North to win contracts and create jobs supporting developments in the wave and tidal sector."


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