A Planned Culture of Enterprise and Growth

| Care in the Community | Sustainable Communities |  A Clean Environment |
| A Planned Culture of Enterprise and Growth | A Skilled and Confident Highlands |
| Arts, Heritage, Culture and Sport | Gaelic Language | Improved Transport and Connectivity |
| Children and Young People | Corporate Objectives for The Highland Council |

Image of harbour and boatSetting the Scene for Future Development

A commitment is given by the Council to accelerating economic development and increasing the standard of living of the Highland community.

We are eager to set the scene for the future development of the Highlands for a generation by preparing:

  • A new Development Plan, including a coastal development strategy, to be in place by 2009-10. 
  • Three new local development plans, which will provide detailed planning guidance following full community participation in their preparation.
  • Three aquaculture framework plans.

Key action areas being considered in the development planning process include the development of the A96 corridor, key Inverness regeneration areas; Dounreay and related developments in Caithness, Fort William and opportunities in Easter Ross.
Area-based regeneration will also take into account the needs of small towns across the Highlands, fragile rural areas and areas of concentrated multiple deprivation.

Regenerating Caithness and North Sutherland

Given the scale of change affecting Caithness and North Sutherland as a result of the decommissioning of Dounreay, the Council is working in partnership with Highlands and Islands Enterprise, the Nuclear Decommissioning Agency and the UK and Scottish Governments to develop an action plan for the regeneration of the area. Over the next three years, the Council is contributing £120,000 towards the costs of the Regeneration Partnership.

One project already under way in Caithness is the £4 million redevelopment of the council-owned Thurso Town Hall, where Caithness Horizons has attracted funding to create a first class visitor centre, museum and community resource. As well as providing modern facilities for community and educational use, the refurbished buildings will contain a high quality accredited museum telling the human and environmental story of Caithness.

Supporting Local Businesses

Over the past four years, we have supported 1,051 private sector/social enterprise jobs through Council grant and loan schemes. We have also awarded rural rates relief and small business rates relief to eligible businesses amounting to more than £11.3 million.
We are eager to assist the Scottish Government implement their policy of removing the burden of rates for the smallest businesses and reducing rates for others. 
We are taking action to pursue initiatives that support the use of local produce, products and services.  This year we expect to buy goods and services to the value of £224 million.  We will also work with other partners to implement the Scottish Skills Strategy and Economic Strategy and move to a single point of contact for business support.

Crown Estate Review

We believe that the principle of local communities benefiting from local resources should extend to Scotland’s marine environment currently managed by the Crown Estate. The Highlands is home to half the length of Britain’s coastline and around half the total number of ports and harbours in Britain.  We are pressing for the UK Government to work with Scottish Ministers to instigate a review to ensure the property, rights and interests of the Crown Estate in Scotland contribute more fully to the delivery of Scottish Government policies and the Scottish population.

How Do We Perform?
  • Since 2004, we have supported 1,051 private sector/social enterprise jobs through grant and loan programme. 
  • Rural Rates Relief and Small Business Rates Relief have been awarded to eligible businesses in the Highlands, amounting to over £11.3m in total relief over the last four years.
  • 95.9% of our 12,800 workforce are currently located outwith Council Headquarters in Inverness. 
     We have or are assisting 24 communities to benefit financially from renewable projects.
  • We attract the highest level of community benefit from renewables with many developers offering approximately £2,500 /MW/year. Rates of £1,100/MW/year are common further south.
  • We deal with the highest volume of planning applications and building warrants of any Council in Scotland.  In 2006-7, 5,365 planning applications were received; 3,773 building warrants were applied for; and 3,677 completion certificates were issued.  We are working to improve response target times.