our region

The far north is a place of dramatic hillscapes, vast skies and jagged coastline, commanding incredible natural resources and lively communities.

 

Overview

Caithness and Sutherland is the most northerly part of both Scotland and the UK, home to the famous North Coast 500 tourist route and the iconic John O’Groats.

The region has a population of less than 40,000, dispersed across a mix of urban and rural settlements. Despite its remote and rural location, the area boasts relatively strong employment (82% in 2019) and a high economic activity rate (84.6% in 2019). This reflects both traditional strengths in agriculture, fishing and tourism, and the considerable impact of Dounreay nuclear power station. 

Economic transition

As it continues its decommissioning journey, NRS Dounreay leaves a legacy of a skilled workforce and a sophisticated supply chain supporting its highly complex and demanding processes. Economic diversification is crucial to the future prosperity of our region – indeed this was the central mission of Caithness and North Sutherland Regeneration Partnership (CNSRP), the precursor to Focus North. By 2011, the percentage of local jobs reliant on nuclear had decreased from 15% to 10%. However, there is still a long way to go.

Natural energy

Energy is at the heart of our region, and it’s also a remarkable characteristic of our local people. Our region is central to Europe’s low carbon energy transition, producing 12.5 times the renewable energy we consume. Caithness and Sutherland has the highest onshore and offshore wind capacity in the UK, as well as MeyGen tidal array expanding to 28MW. Hydrogen is also an emerging market, with up to 2,000 tonnes per annum proposed for Gordonbush in Sutherland and hydrogen transport pilots ongoing.

The region is home to two of the UK’s leading battery research and production companies – AMTE Power and Denchi Power – and has attracted interest from major investors in edge data centres.

Ready for lift-off

Over in the Mhoine peninsula, Sutherland Spaceport will launch its first vertical satellites in 2024. It will become the centre of a developing space cluster attracting up to 740 jobs to the region.

Globally important landscape

Our incredible natural landscape is attracting global attention, both from visitors keen to discover one of the UK’s last wildernesses and from scientists and conservationists who come here to study. The Flow Country is an internationally important carbon sink and a proposed UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Leading the Just Transition

All these attributes make Caithness and Sutherland an ideal pilot area to explore both the challenges and opportunities of the Just Transition at a national scale. Focus North is committed to leading the green economy, delivering a sustainable future for our communities.

Tel: 01463 383 286

Email: info@focusnorth.scot

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Tollemache House
Thurso, Caithness
KW14 8AZ