The Crown Estate and the University of Highlands and Islands have last night (Tuesday) signed a ‘partnership agreement’ to work together to maximise the benefits to the people of the Highlands and Islands from the low carbon energy revolution in the area.
The agreement reinforces initiatives already underway between the university and The Crown Estate, which manages a diverse portfolio in Scotland, including 43,000 ha of rural estate and a marine estate, consisting of more than half the foreshore and the seabed out to the 12 nautical mile territorial limit. It has the right to license renewable energy in the form of offshore wind, wave and tidal power.
Gareth Baird, The Crown Estate’s Scottish Commissioner said: “The Crown Estate has worked with the University of the Highlands and Islands over a number of years, funding various aquaculture and marine biofuel research projects with the Scottish Association for Marine Science UHI near Oban and, more recently, a research study in to the behaviour of wild salmon in the renewable energy province of the Pentland Firth, with the Environmental Research Institute at North Highland College UHI in Thurso.
“This memorandum of understanding between the university and The Crown Estate further strengthens these existing working relationships and provides new opportunities for broader and more diverse ways of working together in the future.”
The University of the Highlands and Islands is already working with a range of stakeholders in the marine renewables industry. Staff at the Environmental Research Institute in Thurso collaborate with landowners, regulatory bodies, conservation agencies, academia and developers of marine renewable energy technologies.
James Fraser, principal and vice-chancellor explained: “One aspect of the research includes the migratory routes used by salmon, for which there are large gaps in our knowledge. Funding from The Crown Estate over the last year has enabled us to develop methods that improve our ability to estimate the probability that migrating salmon (as juveniles or adults) will interact with developments for renewable energy in coastal waters.
“The university is delighted to sign this collaborative agreement with The Crown Estate. The university partnership of 13 colleges and research centres is unique in encompassing both further and higher education and in covering the whole of the Highlands and Islands, including Moray, Perth and Kinross.
“Working with The Crown Estate, we believe our highly trained staff and world class researchers can play a key role in supporting the transformation of the Highlands and Islands’ economy through the development of the renewable energy industry.”
A steering group will be formed to facilitate co-operation between the two organisations and to ensure that local businesses and communities are engaged. Key areas for collaboration and opportunity exist across offshore energy generation, both in creating the right training infrastructure and in promoting innovation and research.