I may not be alone in thinking that the Golden Boy of renewables is really only plated base metal.
Don’t mis-quote me, I’m not knocking wind power per se, only its greedy adoption by those who want to be seen to have Green Profile, and have taken advantage of its quicker time-to-production than the alternatives, meaning that they have lost out, and inappropriate wind power schemes have been pushed forward. Witness the growing number of protests against wind farm applications, rather than a blind acceptance that every scheme being proposed is desirable.
The tide (no pun intended) may be turning though, with the announcement in the news of a tidal scheme to be based in the Pentland Firth. Earlier this month, Dutch firm Tocardo confirmed it was planning to build a tidal energy plant in the firth, a strip of water between the Scottish mainland and Orkney, and which could eventually play a key role in helping solve the country’s energy crisis. Industry executives will be visiting the area and contacting local firms and public agencies with a view to using Caithness and Orkney as a base for future ventures, and comprise members of the British Wind Energy Association, manufacturers and developers of marine energy devices, and consultants from the renewables industry.
Roy Kirk, of Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE), said: “One of the main aims of the visit is to show the range of engineering and science-based companies already based in Caithness. The infrastructure here is a real asset for the developments we expect to happen. The tidal stream in the firth is certainly the best in the UK and is amongst the best anywhere in the world.“
A four year, £20 million project has been announced for Caithness in the Highlands, to create a National Nuclear Archive holding some 30 million records ranging from digital to photographic an paper records. The facility is also to host the Wick based North Highland Archive, which has grown to to need additional storage space.
The Nuclear Decommissioning Authority will start the project with £8 million to be invested over the first three years, and the archive will address the authorities statutory requirement to manage public records, and make them accessible. Content will comprise records detailing the history, development and decommissioning of the country’s civil nuclear programme since its beginnings in the 1940s.
A potential site has already been identified, and the NDA is working with Highland Council and Highlands and Islands Enterprise. The project is seen as a positive move for the area, with 20 jobs being created within the archive, the construction phase, and the eventual attraction of visitors to the area to visit the completed facility, together with its interaction with local educational bodies.
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On the face of it this might be seen as a huge storage depot but it is far more than that.
The North Highland Archive based at the Wick library will also relocate to part of the new building. The North highland Archive has seen increasing numbers of visitors to research their family history. The room at Wick library is far too small especially in the summer when many folk appear from all over the UK and abroad looking for information. Storage is very limited and there is no space to display many of the interesting records held in cupboards. The new facility will change all that.
Apart from visitors to the council records the Nuclear Archive will see many researchers and scientist visiting to examine the material held in the Nuclear Archive. Hence the proximity to Wick airport that will see a boost in traffic.
An increase in visitor numbers will help the tourist industry in several ways. The new facility will help the local economy as it faces up to the reduction in jobs at Dounreay due to the ongoing decommissioning.
A new visitor centre at Thurso will also open in the Autumn of 2008 and part of that will be displays showing the work at Dounreay. The centre is located in the former Thurso Town Hall and is named Caithness Horizons. See more at http://www.caithnesshorizons.co.uk
Many new projects are beginning to be undertaken in Caithness under the heading of Regeneration. See more on this at http://www.caithness.org/regeneration/index.htm