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Regeneration Index    

Caithness & North Sutherland

The Dounreay site has played a huge part in the economy of Caithness and North Sutherland for over 50 years and will continue to play its part in supporting HIE, Highland Council and the NDA to move towards a prosperous future.

Simon Middlemas, Dounreay Director is committed to supporting the area for the future – “I strongly believe we have one big asset on this site and that is the people who work here – we have a wealth of different skills and expertise and we want to keep people working for as long as we can but the inevitability is that the site will be dismantled and the work will no longer be here."

"We are currently looking at ways in which to help everyone consider what they want to do in the longer term so that when the time comes they are fully equipped for a successful future.”

Looking at opportunities on and off the site
A team of two – Ron Peddie and Donna Stewart – work in conjunction with the NDA. Their focus is to work in partnership with the development agencies, stakeholders and local bodies to stimulate, support and develop projects, proposals and initiatives for economic regeneration and development. They are also focussed on creating an environment that encourage staff to come forward with business start-up ideas or it may be from activities already established on site or new business ideas.

To further encourage entrepreneurship HIE Caithness and Sutherland have now established an office on the site, giving all staff access to their services, including business start up workshops and other tailored courses.

The project team also work with various units on the site to progress topics which have possible implications for the long term future of the area.

“We want to encourage anyone who has an idea to come and speak to us. We can provide support to develop business plans and offer advice and encouragement”.

“While I appreciate the frustration of people who feel there is a lack of activity I can assure them there is a lot of work going on in the background. Not only are we considering site activities which has a potential to continue long after the site is gone or from individuals on the site, we are actively working with the key agencies to encourage new businesses to consider Caithness as the place they want to come to.”

Helping you to help yourself!
The Human Resource team are currently looking at ways to support staff in considering their future for the longer term. Retraining for the skills required to complete the decommissioning will be one aspect to maximise the longevity of employment on the site while training for a future beyond Dounreay will also be available.

Led by Jerry Abbott, the team is currently working with Liverpool University and HIE Caithness and Sutherland, to tailor a process which will help in providing the support and advice required.

Davie Alexander said, “The process offers career and life management programmes and resources designed to realise the potential within ourselves, our organisations, communities and regions. The unions will be supporting this by their involvement in tailoring the process to suit the needs of the site. I would encourage everyone to get involved when the programme rolls out.”

Jerry Abbott said, “We recognise that people have concerns and our aim is to help and support our staff in planning for their futures at Dounreay and beyond. Part of this is the support to the union’s initiative for Life Long Learning and in turn the unions are actively involved in our discussions with Liverpool University to tailor a process which can provide the support required for individuals who want to begin making advance plans for their futures.”

Jill Bundy said, “We want to be in a position to offer a degree of confidence to people – considering your training needs now provides an insurance policy for the future.”



Over the coming weeks human resource and union representatives will be provided with the necessary training to start delivery of this process and a site-wide communications programme will be rolled out so that everyone is aware of what is being offered.

The Dounreay Decommissioning Programme
Planning the decommissioning programme for the site is the responsibility of the Programmes Office and they are very aware of how staff numbers can be affected when the programme is changed. The site has aspirations to refine the plan further and the end date could be moved even closer towards 2020s.

“By bringing the closure date forward means we can keep a higher number of jobs on the site for longer – that means the impact of losing jobs in 2012 can be moved out to 2018 or thereabouts. As our planning improves we can – with the agreement of NDA – modify our plan to cope with the requirements of our community.”

A robust plan allows for better understanding of the skills required for the longer term to complete the decommissioning of the site. Conversely it also informs when certain skills will no longer be needed and this will be of value to the enterprise agency in forward planning to match skills to the potential new opportunities.

Support to the Supply Chain
Supply chain staff work and live locally and are also affected by the decommissioning programme. A procurement strategy has been published which sets out the strategy including the internal and external drivers.

Dounreay, in support of the key agencies, is working with and encouraging the local supply chain to diversify so they can build a strong business base which will last well beyond the completion of decommissioning.