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Caithness News Bulletins May 2003

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UKAEA Dounreay Forss CASE Reports

Forss House Hotel

FURTHER INVESTMENT AT FORSS

Caithness and Sutherland Enterprise (CASE) has committed a further 440,000 towards the creation of a hi-tech business park near Thurso.  In addition the project has secured 732,545 from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).

The former Forss US Naval Base - which has been idle for over a decade - is being transformed into a Business and Technology Park, which is set to attract tenants associated with the decommissioning of the nearby Dounreay nuclear plant.


Agreement Signed

New Park Highland Limited - developer of the Business and Technology Park - has secured the CASE and ERDF financial assistance for phases two and three of the project which will see the renovation of nine buildings on the site, creating offices, workshops, storage space and incubation units for new business starts.

This stage of the project is set to cost more than 2.9 million with phase two involving the extensive refurbishment of eight buildings to provide multi-occupancy units followed by phase three, which will see the upgrading of a further building to create the incubation units.

CASE's latest funding support for New Park Highland's Business and Technology Park follows a previous award from the development agency worth 633,000 which helped towards environmental renewal works aimed at improving the external surroundings of the Park in order to make it more attractive to potential tenants.

Anchor tenants for the site have already been secured with the United Kingdom Energy Authority (UKAEA) moving its Major Projects and Engineering Division - which accounts for some 140 jobs - from Dounreay to Forss.  When complete, a further 250 jobs are expected to be created at the Business and Technology Park through inward investors and spin-off businesses.

Murdo MacKenzie of New Park Highland said: "This additional financial support from CASE will significantly enhance the development programme at Forss and will bring the concept of creating a Centre of Excellence in Nuclear Decommissioning into reality.  In addition to our anchor tenant UKAEA, negotiations are progressing well with a further ten companies engaged in nuclear decommissioning."

The decommissioning of Dounreay is expected to take approximately 50 years to complete and in that time, the far north can expect an influx of inward investors and new business starts looking for a high standard of suitable accommodation.

Neil Money is head of the Dounreay Task Force at CASE, which was set up to help the far north and the wider Highlands and Islands maximise on the opportunities which will arise from the decommissioning of the nuclear plant.

Commenting on the creation of the Forss Business and Technology Park, Neil said: "Over the next 30 to 50 years, it is expected there will be spend in excess of 4.3 billion in relation to the decommissioning of Dounreay.  Therefore, the development of this Park is of strategic importance creating the facilities and accommodation for inward investors and new spin-off businesses expected as a result of networking within the Park."

Senior business development manager at CASE, Annemarie Monteforte said: "The development of the Forss Business and Technology Park is essential to ensure that the economic benefits of decommissioning will not be lost to the local economy.

"The injection of public funding to support this project brings a derelict site back into economic use and demonstrates the partnership approach with both CASE and ERDF monies contributing to this exciting project."

Scottish Executive's European Structural Funds Division Website
What Is ERDF Funding?
Highland Council Resources  - Transitional Funding Report 4 December 2003 - (PDF file)