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Members of the Enterprise and Culture Committee of the Scottish Parliament today visited Dounreay as part of their inquiry into business growth in Scotland.

Their fact-finding visit was hosted by Simon Middlemas, deputy director of Dounreay, who was joined by representatives of the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority, Caithness and Sutherland Enterprise, North Highland College UHI and Caithness Contractors Consortium.

The MSPs discussed the site clean-up programme and its economic implications, met trade union representatives and saw how the site is being decommissioned.

Tomorrow, the committee will meet at North Highland College UHI to hear evidence as part of its business growth inquiry.

Simon Middlemas welcomed the interest shown by the committee. He said: “The visit by the committee is an opportunity for us to communicate the importance of the site clean-up to the economy of Scotland in general and the north Highlands in particular. The skills and business that have developed here as a result of the decommissioning programme are a resource which the area can use to grow new business in other sectors and so help to sustain the economy of this area beyond the closure of the site.”

Sandy McWhirter, UKAEA’s head of external affairs at Dounreay, said: “While the programme to clean-up Dounreay is being accelerated and staffing levels are declining, it will continue to be a major source of employment and business opportunity for several years to come. This gives the area an opportunity to plan for its regeneration, and UKAEA, on behalf of the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority, is working closely with community leaders and organisations to support this. UKAEA is also determined to play its part by identifying and growing new areas of business that can contribute towards that regeneration.”