The Press and Journal (Inverness, Highlands, and Islands)

Job hopes raised by space pro­ject

First ship visit brings in­flux of cruise pas­sen­gers Union­back­ing­for­satel­lite­launch­fa­cil­ity

- BY IAIN GRANT

The pub­lic sec­tor task­force spear­head­ing the drive to re­place jobs be­ing shed at Doun­reay is hope­ful of suc­cess – and a prom­i­nent union has sug­gested the an­swer is in space.

Pro­ject man­agers have iden­ti­fied six growth sec­tors which they be­lieve can fill the gap and un­der­write the £100 mil­lion-plus the nu­clear plant spends on wages and con­tracts placed with com­pa­nies in the area.

Doun­reay Site Restora­tion Lim­ited (DSRL) last year an­nounced 200 posts were to go – 150 in-house and 50 with con­trac­tors based at the plant.

The lat­est phase of the run­down, which will see DSRL’s pay­roll dip below 900, has put a re­newed spot­light on Caith­ness and North Sutherland Re­gen­er­a­tion Part­ner­ship, which is in charge of the new jobs drive.

Pro­ject man­ager Eann Sin­clair yes­ter­day ad­mit­ted: “It took us by sur­prise when this was an­nounced though the sil­ver lin­ing has

“Urged the UK Space agency to make Sutherland its fu­ture home”

been that they have been vol­un­tary redundanci­es, not com­pul­sory ones. It is how­ever a taste of things to come.”

The part­ner­ship is mean­while con­tin­u­ing to re­fine its “hit list” of sec­tors where it fore­sees new jobs com­ing on stream to re­place those go­ing at Doun­reay.

Its best bet in the short term is the Beatrice Off­shore Wind Ltd (BOWL) pro­ject which it is con­fi­dent will cre­ate 160 new jobs over the next two years. It hopes this will be fol­lowed up by 250 over the next four years at the Mo­ray Off­shore Re­new­ables Lim­ited (MORL) off­shore wind ven­ture.

And GMB Scot­land yes­ter­day urged the UK Space Agency (UKSA) to make Sutherland its fu­ture home for the UK’s ver­ti­cal launch fa­cil­ity pro­ject, with a view to bring­ing more em­ploy­ment to the area.

T r a d e u n i o n rep­re­sen­ta­tives at DSRL have voiced their sup­port along­side lo­cal en­ter­prise and busi­ness re­gen­er­a­tion groups in an ef­fort to en­sure the pro­posed site near Tongue is suc­cess­ful in its bid.

The UKSA is cur­rently con­sid­er­ing a num­ber of po­ten­tial sites as a launch cen­tre for satel­lites with a de­ci­sion due im­mi­nently.

GMB Scot­land Or­gan­iser Liz Gordon said: “As Doun­reay is de­com­mis­sioned the ex­ist­ing lev­els of em­ploy­ment will in­evitably de­cline so the fo­cus should be on al­ter­na­tive em­ploy­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties that can sus­tain the com­mu­ni­ties of the far North. The jobs that would be cre­ated to de­liver the con­struc­tion, in­fra­struc­ture and sus­tain­abil­ity of this pro­ject could give the area a sig­nif­i­cant boost.

“Our mem­bers want to see eco­nomic growth and skilled op­por­tu­ni­ties for fu­ture gen­er­a­tions in the North of Scot­land and that’s why our union is urg­ing ev­ery­one to get be­hind this bid.”

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