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 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 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 and economic development to the area.
Trade union 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 Sutherland economy is a fragile one and 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 at Dounreay have a proud tradition of working at the coal-face of pioneering industry and they are invested in the communities of Caithness and Sutherland.
They 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.”