£24 million district heating network opened

Scotland’s Energy Minister, Paul Wheelhouse MSP, has officially opened Glenrothes’ new district heating network.


Supported by a £8.5 million  investment from the Scottish Government’s Low Carbon Infrastructure Transition Programme, the £24 million collaborative project between Fife Council and RWE has been delivered on time and on budget.


Paul Wheelhouse MSP (centre) and Cllr Vettraino (left) hear from Ian Clavert at RWE how the energy centre works

The new network, constructed in central Glenrothes, provides low carbon heating to the council’s Fife House complex, Rothes Halls and the sheltered housing complex at Jubilee Grove by using steam from the RWE biomass CHP plant at Markinch.


Scotland’s Energy Minister, Paul Wheelhouse, said, “I am delighted to officially open the Glenrothes Energy Network today.  This ambitious project, which has received £8.6 million support from the Scottish Government’s Low Carbon Infrastructure Transition Programme, is already providing reliable low carbon heat to a number of buildings and has potential for expansion in the future.


“I would like to congratulate both Fife Council and RWE on the way in which they have worked in partnership and their success in constructing the new energy centre and network within the town centre which will make a valuable contribution towards reducing carbon emissions and meeting our renewable heat targets.”


Steve Glover, Director of Hard Coal and Gas Power Plant UK, RWE Generation said: “RWE is proud to be part of this innovative partnership; the Energy Centre is one of the quickest built projects of its kind in the UK and represents a significant investment in our Fife operation.  This scheme offers the opportunity to provide affordable heat and lower carbon emissions and RWE are delighted to be part of its success.”


Cllr Ross Vettraino, Fife Council’s spokesperson for the environment said: “Fife continues leading the way in tackling climate change.  Bringing this district heating scheme to Glenrothes helps Fife Council reach its goal of reducing carbon emissions by 42% by 2020.  The scheme demonstrates how to tackle the Government’s long-term climate change targets at a local level and helps build confidence in modern, low carbon heat technology.”


Along with the three partners, several organisations have provided invaluable support delivering Glenrothes Energy Network:


Cllr Vettraino concluded: “This project is an exemplar of partnership working and what it can achieve. Thanks go to everyone involved in bringing this stage of the network to successful completion.”


The official opening marks the completion of the core network construction. Work is currently underway looking at connecting local businesses.  The network is ready for the future with the potential to connect more domestic customers when additional funding is sourced.


For more information on the project please go to www.glenrothesenergynetwork.co.uk






Toolkit launched to help employers create mentally healthy workplaces



According to the Mental Health Foundation, around 17.5% of the working age population have symptoms of a common mental health problem.


This means that in Fife, mental health issues are affecting over 40,000 16-24 year olds at any one time. The cost of this to businesses is significant, with estimates putting costs at around £1,300 per employee per year.


A toolkit has just been launched to help employers create mentally healthy workplaces – the best way to reduce sickness absence due to mental health issues.


The ‘just:ASK LISTEN TALK’ toolkit suggests steps you can take to improve how you and your staff view mental health at work.


It also gives you guidance on how to open up channels of communication with staff who are off sick due to poor mental health and how to support them back to work.


Click to download your copy of the toolkit or to order a printed version email sw.ses@fife.gov.uk


Developed by Fife Council’s Supported Employment Service, the toolkit is part of the 2019-20 Workforce Wellbeing Action Plan for Fife launched on 20 March by Jamie Hepburn MSP, Minister for Business, Fair Work and Skills.


Meet the Buyer at Scotland’s largest public sector supplier event

Companies can now register for Scotland’s largest public sector ‘Meet the Buyer’ event taking place on 6 June at Murrayfield Stadium in Edinburgh.


Over 40 public sector bodies from across Scotland and the UK will meet in Edinburgh this summer for Meet the Buyer 2018 which is celebrating its 10th anniversary as the largest free procurement event in Scotland. Hosted by the Supplier Development Programme,  the event is organised in association with Scottish Government and Scotland Excel.


26 Scottish Local Authorities, the NHS, DfID and Crown Commercial Services are among  the  organisations confirmed to exhibit the event, which will see over 1,000 Scottish companies descend on Murrayfield Stadium in Edinburgh for a day of networking and procurement training.


Buyers from Scottish Government, Scotland Excel, Transport Scotland and over 15 private sector buyers with sub-contract opportunities will be in attendance, giving suppliers the opportunity to speak to directly to buyers about their procurement processes and contract opportunities. The event is aimed at SMEs (small to medium sized businesses) and third sector organisations who are interested in supplying to the public sector.


Gillian Cameron of the Supplier Development Programme said, “This event, now recognised as the largest public spend event hosted in Scotland, affording businesses, particularly SMEs a truly unique opportunity to network, connect and hear the latest news on how they can grow their business through public sector tendering and the wider supply chain – all under one roof”.


In addition to networking opportunities the event will feature presentations and seminars from NHS National Services, APUC, Scotland Excel and Google Digital Garage, as well as practical workshops on how to write a successful tender.


Ainslie McLaughlin, Director of Procurement and Commercial at the Scottish Government said, The Scottish Government recognises that SMEs are critical to the economic health of the country and we want them to thrive.   SDP’s Meet the Buyer event provides SMEs with the potential opportunity to meet procurement experts both from their local area and nationally to gather valuable information on future procurement opportunities of interest to your business.”


Julie Welsh, Director of Scotland Excel, said: We are delighted to be partners in this Meet the Buyer event. It’s a fantastic chance for Scottish companies to speak directly to over 40 public sector organisations, including Scotland Excel, to find out about business opportunities and the tender process.”


Register for the event at http://bit.ly/sdpmtb18

Funding boost for Kincardine and South West Fife

Fife Council has secured £300,000 from the Big Lottery’s Coastal Communities Fund for the regeneration of coastal communities in South West Fife.


The funding will be used to support:

  • The creation of new business units to provide over 800 sqm of space for new and existing companies.
  • A Kincardine town centre improvements programme
  • Access improvements between Devilla Forest and the Fife Coastal Path via Kincardine.


These projects will all support the delivery of the Longannet Task Force Action Plan, which aims to mitigate the impact of the the closure of the Longannet Power Station by helping to diversify the local economy and encourage new enterprise into the area.


Announcing the funding award, Councillor Altany Craik, Convener of the Council’s Economy, Tourism, Strategic Planning & Transportation Committee, said:


“We are delighted to receive this funding to further support us in improving the economy and attractiveness of Fife.


“These projects recognise that South West Fife continues to have significant potential in accommodating the growth of local businesses and attracting new inward investment.  The access and shopfront improvements proposed also help to diversify the local economy by promoting tourism and improving visitor experiences locally.


“Fife Council recognises the strategic role South West Fife plays within Scotland and supports the regeneration of its communities, many of which have been directly affected by the recent closure of Longannet Power Station.”


A planning application for the new business units has been submitted and the town centre improvement scheme will be launched in May.  The scoping and delivery of the Devilla Forest access improvements is progressing well, assisted by Forest Enterprise Scotland and Police Scotland.


Funding secured for improving Glenrothes town centre

Fife Council’s Town Centre Development Unit has secured over £500,000 of funding for environmental improvements on North Street, Glenrothes.


Jointly funded by SUSTRAN Community Links and Fife Council, the work will complement the major town centre transformation currently underway.


The town centre development includes new leisure and retail facilities, a new CISWO club on South Street and aspires to re-develop the Kingdom Shopping Centre and Albany Gate. The project will deliver a more distinctive and integrated town centre with attractive spaces for people to spend more time and to encourage the evening economy.


Cllr Altany Craik, Convener of Economy, Tourism, Strategic Planning & Transportation Committee said: ‘As Glenrothes celebrates its 70th birthday this year this is excellent news for local communities and businesses.


‘The funding supports our vision to create a town centre that can be enjoyed by local people and visitors alike.  Our new and improved town centre will provide opportunities for socialising, space to hold events and will be accessible for pedestrians and cyclists.


‘The Council is committed to supporting the on-going regeneration of Glenrothes town centre and I’m looking forward to seeing the completion of this very exciting development.’


The improvements will include traffic calming methods such as entrance gateways, streetscape design and new surfacing.  Other enhancements will see the creation of green space within the town centre, upgrading the public space outside Kingdom House and Fife House to create a piazza where events and activity can take place and a new cycle path connecting to the existing cycle network.’


For more information email Fife Council’s Town Centre Development Unit tcdu@fife.gov.uk


Scottish Government announces BiFab acquisition agreement

New investment has been secured for fabrication firm BiFab and its yards at Methil and Burntisland in Fife and Arnish in the Western Isles.


Canadian company JV Driver, through its subsidiary DF Barnes, has acquired BiFab as part of an agreement brokered by the Scottish Government to support new opportunities at these yards for fabrication and construction in the marine, renewables and energy sector.


Fife Council Co-Leaders David Ross and David Alexander were quick to welcome the announcement by the Scottish Government on the future of BiFab.


Council Co-Leader David Alexander said: “As a council we have supported BiFab and the trade unions every step of the way in their fight to save this incredibly important asset to Fife’s economy. We urged the Scottish and UK Governments to use their influence and this is a fantastic result, which shows what we can achieve when everyone in Scotland works together. We continue to work with the company as they seek vital orders for the future.”


Council Co-Leader David Ross continued: “I am very pleased that efforts to save the BiFab yards have been successful and, once again, I would pay tribute to the determination and resilience of the workforce and the trade unions in their fight to retain jobs and ensure the future of the yards. These yards are important for the Fife economy, for the Energy Park Fife and for the wider Scottish renewables industry and today’s announcement is very welcome.”


New scheme to be launched to tackle Fife’s declining town centres

Fife Council plans to address the decline in town centre activity by launching a new short-term pilot scheme offering discretionary reductions in rates for larger vacant properties and units.


High vacancy rates (ranging from 4.6% to 24.5% across Fife) have been the result of declining town centre footfall, limited private sector investment and dilapidation.


Mid-Fife towns have significantly higher vacancy rates with an average of 20.8%. This has prompted the Council and partners to take action and stop the trend.


£500,000 was allocated in last year’s budget to a town centre regeneration fund which will continue to be spent on various projects.


Read the full story in the Courier.

Transport Academy prepares Fifers for Industry

The road haulage industry as a whole is experiencing a skills shortage. And it is anticipated that within the next five years Scotland could face a shortage of up to 25,000 drivers. Fife Council, the Road Haulage Association (RHA) and local Job Centres have been working closely to ensure that people from across Fife gain the skills and qualifications required to secure employment in the industry.


A group of unemployed Fifers have been improving their chances of finding work in HGV driving thanks to a ground breaking Transport Skills Sector Academy currently being run by Fife Council in conjunction with the RHA.


Fife’s latest and newest Transport Academy helped participants to receive training on road skills to complement their industry specific training. Training like this is of national importance in response to a significant skills shortage in the Transport sector.


The Road Haulage Sector Skills Academy, is giving eight candidates the opportunity to learn skills in a range of different driving techniques, delivering relevant health and safety training and environmental awareness, organised by Fife Councils’ Employability Services and the RHA.


Both the RHA and Fife Council’s “Fife Job Contract” co-fund this initiative and the Fife Job Contract Team have recruited candidates directly from job centres.


At the Academy’s Celebration Event on the 6th April at the Skills Development & Conference Centre in Kirkcaldy, Brian Kenny, National Transport Manager from the RHA, said: “We are extremely proud of the work that Fife Council and its staff have put into helping them demonstrate the benefits of working in road haulage. It’s clear to us that the enthusiasm and determination demonstrated by these trainees will serve any employer well and that the road haulage industry in Fife will be all the better for it.”


Lucinda McAllister, Employability Service Manager said, “This is a fantastic opportunity working closely with The Road Haulage Association on this brand new Academy to provide skills and training within the industry. With the ongoing support provided by Fife Council and the Road Haulage Association I am sure that all the clients will be successful in their chosen career pathway.”


Once the Academy participants are prepared to start their driving training they will be employed by the RHA’s members. A number of the RHA’s members are supporting this initiative by offering the Academy participants employment whilst undergoing their training. The group undertake work experience with various employers throughout Fife. This training increases their industry knowledge and provides hands-on experience to help them confidently secure jobs with these employers.


Grahams Dairies have already recruited from the Academy. Valerie Calder, HR Manger, said “ This initiative is a fantastic, very positive response to addressing a huge gap in the transport industries shortage of drivers nationally, and we are delighted to be part of it, and have recruited one of its participants into our organisation.”


Councillor Altany Craik said “It is always a pleasure to see policies in action and the impact it is having on real lives, helping people into high quality jobs such as these professional drivers’ posts, is what the Employability service does, and this Academy covers this precisely.”


Original article posted here.

New golf course gets the green light

Councillors have approved the creation of a new 18-hole pay-as-you-play golf course at Dumbarnie Links, near Lower Largo.


Members of Fife Council’s North East Fife Planning Committee were assured that alterations could be made to the course due to concerns regarding ecologically sensitive areas on the site.


A group of investors is behind the 165-hectare development in Balcarres Estate, which they hope will open in late summer 2019 or early summer 2020.


The development is predicted to create 30 full time jobs, with the potential need for hiring 10 part time workers during busy periods. 25 posts would be sustained during construction of the club house and other buildings.


It has been estimated that the course could attract 28,000 visitors a year.


Check out the full article here.