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Dounreay still crucial to Caithness and Sutherland economy

15th September 2007

A third of all employment in the Caithness region remains dependent on the decommissioning activities at Dounreay Nuclear Plant, according to new research.

That is one of the findings of Dr Holger Bergmann, who gave a keynote presentation at the 'Caithness - Beyond Dounreay' conference in Thurso on Friday 14th September 2007.

He told around 120 delegates, including Energy Minister, Malcolm Wicks that an improved transport infrastructure and at least a 10% increase in local net output value are needed to maintain job numbers in the region.

The nuclear plant - which has driven the local economy for half a century - will be fully decommissioned in 25 years time.

Around 2,000 jobs are expected to be gradually lost over the next decade.

Dr. Bergmann, a research fellow at the University of Aberdeen's Business School, said: "My research highlights the continuing importance of the Dounreay site for the local labour market in Caithness and Sutherland."

His results show that 33% - around 4,300 jobs - of all employment in the region is currently linked to decommissioning activities, via direct employment, commercial input purchases, and household spending of wages and salaries in the area.

"I estimated that to maintain job numbers it would be necessary to increase local net output value by more than 10%, and to improve transport infrastructures, "said Dr Bergmann. "The area would also need to avoid deprivation and migration.

"However, entrepreneurial skills, good governmental institutions and social capital are all available, making it possible to achieve this target."

Organised by Caithness Partnership, in association with the Dounreay Stakeholder Group, the conference is the first step towards delivering a future economic action plan for the area.

Dr Bergmann's presentation is part of a wider three-year European Union research project called TOP-MARD, whose main focus is to clarify the relationship between farming and rural development issues in EU states such as the UK, Germany and Spain.

In total, ten 10 EU member states - Austria, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and UK - and one non-member, Norway, are involved in the study.

Issued by the Communications Team, Office of External Affairs, University of Aberdeen, King's College, Aberdeen

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