Baroness Verma, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for the Department of Energy and Climate Change, was in Caithness last week for a two-day visit.
She visited Dounreay, where she saw the recent security enhancements to the site, demonstrating DSRL’s commitment to continuous improvement designed to protect the site’s workforce, business and the wider community.
The CNC’s longest-serving female authorised firearms officer, Gillian Spence, and DSRL’s Scottish Nuclear Apprentice of the Year, Erin Thomson, met the Baroness during her visit.
Baroness Verma also officially opened the new CNC firing range, constructed by DSRL and funded by the NDA, which will enable the firearms officers to train to the standard accredited by the Home Office in a local range, saving up to £3.9m over the lifetime of the facility.
DSRL’s Director of Security Director said:
We very much welcomed the opportunity to brief and demonstrate to the Minister the considerable progress that has been made in the continuous improvement of security across the security disciplines at Dounreay.
This visit was an important opportunity to provide first hand insight into the very high priority that DSRL places on security matters and we are confident that the programme provided the Minister and her officials with an informative visit.
CNC Chief Constable Mike Griffiths said:
I am delighted that Baroness Verma was able to observe and meet CNC officers carrying out their armed duties at Dounreay.
She spent time with PC Gillian Spence, the longest-serving female Authorised Firearms officer in the country, before being shown around the new firearms training range where officers showed her a demonstration of the weapons and equipment they carry.
It was a fantastic opportunity to show CNC officers working closely with the site operator, demonstrating that safety and security plans work effectively together.
The second day of the visit was spent in Thurso. The Baroness visited Scrabster Harbour where she saw the recently constructed Queen Elizabeth Pier, which allows larger vessels to gain access to the harbour.
She also visited Caithness Horizons, where she met MP John Thurso and representatives from four local small and medium sized companies who have benefitted from loans granted by the North Highland Regeneration Fund. The Fund was established by the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority to provide loan funding to encourage the start up of new business and the growth of existing companies as part of the drive to replace jobs that will be lost to the area as Dounreay decommissions.
Baroness Verma commented on her visit to the county:
This was my second visit to Dounreay and Caithness since becoming Minister and I was impressed with the significant progress made at the site. DSRL, CNC, and NDA can take a lot of credit for that.
I was interested to learn about the work of the North Highland Regeneration Fund and it was encouraging to see the assistance it provides to a diverse range of local businesses.