2006 Annual Conference Report

The MFP Annual Conference took place on 24th November 2006 at the Highland Council Chambers in Inverness. We celebrated our 10th birthday with 70 delegates, reflecting on the achievements of the past decade and looking forward to the future.

“When the Partnership was set up in 1996 one of our main priorities was to provide a forum for bringing a range of stakeholders together to discuss their needs and resolve their inevitable differences. At the same time we also wanted to develop more knowledge and understanding about the Firth. As we celebrate our tenth birthday it’s clear that we’ve made great progress. From supporting local communities to helping safeguard the Moray Firth dolphins the Partnership has achieved a lot over the years and we are confident that the next ten years will be even more successful.”
Mike Comerford, MFP Chair

Conference Opening Welcome Speech by Mike Comerford, MFP Chairman
Mike Comerford welcomed everyone to the 10th Birthday conference. Thanks were offered to Chevron Upstream Europe for their sponsorship of the event, to The Highland Council for provision of the venue free of charge, and to Aberdeenshire Council for some design help with the posters out in the ‘market place’.

Opening Speaker by Sir John Lister-Kay
The conference was opened by Sir John Lister-Kaye, one of Scotland’s foremost naturalists and a long-standing supporter of the Moray Firth Partnership, who urged delegates to consider the vital need for integrated coastal and land management programmes.

What a Difference a Decade Makes
by Mike comerford, MFP Chairman
Mike Comerford took delegates on a journey back over the past 10 years, commencing with a specially commisioned DVD presentation showcasing the many events and projects and the people involved in them.  Credit was given to the photos at the end of the DVD that came from our North Sea Trail photo competition, to Nairn Academy for the music (from a newly released CD of theirs), to Platform PR and to Steve Jones of Velocity Design who put the DVD together for us.

Mike Comerford then took the opportunity to thank the Partnership’s Directors and the staff over the years for their hard work; to the many funders of the Partnership and importantly to the partnership of people - all those who had been involved, some from the very beginning, some for specific projects, some of whom give up their spare time, unpaid, and others who juggle their work with the Partnership with other pressing matters in their intray.

The work of the Scottish Executive, led by the Minister, Ross Finnie, to consolidate its approach to the delivery of ICZM gives rise to some optimism that a contribution to core funding from Government may be made soon available to help sustain ICZM delivery in the longer term.

"I am confident in the continued ability of the MFP to add increasing value to the process of integrating economic success with the promotion of a healthy and vibrant natural and cultural environment in the Moray Firth area.

The engagement of communities in the planning and management of the Moray Firth is fundamental to the achievement of the Partnership’s mission. The contribution of communities to coastal management and the MFP has been an essential element of the MFP’s work over the last 10 years. Communities have been, and continue to be, involved in many different aspects of the Partnerships work.  Projects such as Hands across the Firth, Nortrail, fisheries, Beach Guardians and the Community Grants Scheme."

The formal launch of this year’s Moray Firth Partnership Community Grant Scheme was made. Up to £1,000 is available to coastal community groups who are members of the Moray Firth Partnership.

We’re looking for projects that benefit communities and visitors to the area and contribute in some way to the local quality of life. This year we’ve also received additional funding from BG Group which has allowed us to extend our grants scheme to help coastal communities work together to share best practice and learn from their experiences. We can help pay for travel and other expenses.

"We’re extremely grateful to both BG Group and SNH, who are both supporting the grant scheme this year, for their support which will help bolster the work of the very dedicated community groups around the Moray Firth."

Power to the People:
Many communities have received grants over the last 6 years from the MFP and many projects has been implemented all around the Firth’s shore.  Slide showing list of all projects receieving funding.  Community groups, from Sandhaven and Pitullie Harbour Trust and the Findhorn Heritage Village, who have benefited from MFP grant funding over the years shared their experiences of how their projects contributed to the better management of the Firth.

Making Waves by Graham Todd, Sandhaven & Pitullie Harbour Trust
Graham Todd is a volunteer with the Sandhaven & Pitullie Harbour Trust. He presented an overview of the restoration of Sandhaven Harbour, the benifits of networking and the assistance provided by the Moray Firth Partnership. 

Recent Community Projects in Findhorn by Tim Negus
Tim Negus is closely involved with a number of voluntary organisations in Findhorn. Tim spoke about some of the community projects in Findhorn that have been helped by the Moray Firth Partnership.  Click here to read Tims presentation.

Our Firth Our Future
Peter J Tilbrook, MFP Director and chair of the Strategic Group
Peter Tilbrook has been involved with the MFP since its formation and has been a Director since the Board was restructured in 2004. He chairs the Partnership's Strategic Group and it is this capacity that he offered a vision for the Firth.  Please follow the link above to read  the presentation.



Sustaining value: the role of technology
Gert De Jong, Technology Co-ordinator,Chevron Upstream Europe
Gert started his presentation by putting Chevron in context with the Partnership, explaining that Chevron was was and still is a great vehicle to get to know stakeholders in the area.  Gert went on to explain that Chevron continued to support the Partnerships aim of balancing the needs of the Firth to achieve sustainable development.  Gert then went on to describe the Captain Field in more detail as a case study of 'technology' and concluded with an interesting presentation on sustainability issues within technology transfer.  

Out of the mouths of babes
Pupils from the Moray Firth School share their ideas for the future of the Firth

The morning session concluded with a performance by the pupils from the Moray Firth school as they shared their ideas for the future of the Firth with delegates. They were joined by Anni Cole-Hamilton, principle of Moray Firth School and teachers Mrs Rous and Mr Young.

The Moray Firth School helped the Partnership to launch The North Sea Trail and the children then undertook further research to consider their brief, what they themselves wanted for the future of the Firth.

Please follow the title link to read the poems and songs performed by the children.

Turning Vision into Reality
Following lunch the programme turned to workshops and this year the Partnership offered 6 workshops that looked at important and current issues for the Moray Firth, with a focus on the future. They were split into 2 sessions, giving participants the chance to go to 2 workshops.

Workshop Session 1

A. Energy
Chair: John Dunthorne, Director, MFP
Speakers: Bill Sylvester, Highland and Islands Enterprise; Jan Rusin, Talisman and Gert De Jong, Chevron Upstream Europe

Energy production is a key strategic priority for the Moray Firth. This workshop took a look at the bigger picture, putting the Firth into a North Sea context and outlined the future for the UK and Europe. Participants examined the prospects for the Moray Firth, exploring the opportunities and challenges of producing energy in a sustainable way. The Beatrice wind farm project was used as a case example of facing these challenges.

Bill Sylvester, Highland and Islands Enterprise put the Moray Firth into a North Sea context, outlined the accepted energy positions, what the energy future for UK and Europe may be and in this context, suggested what this offers the Moray Firth.   Jan Rusin, Talisman and Gert De Jong, Chevron Upstream Europe went on to explore with delegates the opportunities and challenges presented by energy production in a sustainable development context.

Please follow the title links to read presentations in full.

Please follow this link to read the summary of discussion from the Energy worshop.

B. Biodiversity
Chair: Peter Tilbrook, Director, MFP
Speakers: Janet Bromham, The Highland Council and Marion Perutz, Marine Conservation Society

The MFP is currently developing a major marine biodiversity project and this workshop explored the rich and varied biodiversity beneath the waves of the Moray Firth. Illustrated by a slide show, delegates were introduced to methods used to raise awareness of the Firth through local projects and initiatives.  Delegates were also able to find out about opportunities to get involved, from contributing local information to underwater divers’ surveys and bird and dolphin surveys.

The Biodiversity workshop included discussion on the marine resource, what we know about the marine biodiversity resource in the MF.  Raising awareness of the marine biodiversity resource was emphasised through local projects and MF wide initiatives, highlighting what is being done already and how participants can link into that work.  There was brief discussion on potential local projects that may need help and how these local biodiversity projects help implement national and international strategies.

Janet Bromham, The Highland Council
Marion Perutz, Marine Conservation Society

Please follow the title links to view the slideshow and read the presentations in full.

The marine biodiversity project being put together by the MFP was introduced and views from the members, on the above, incorporated into the feedback discussion.  Please follow this link to read the feedback summary - Biodiversity Discussion- what actions need to be taken, how can the Moray Firth Partnership help, input into MFP marine biodiversity project.

C. Community Networking
Chair: Sinclair Young, Director, MFP
Presenter /Facilitator : Kathryn Logan, Assistant Manager, MFP and Duncan Bryden
Speakers: Graham Todd, Sandhaven and Pitullie Harbour Trust - HarbourNet, Robin Vasey - sharing best practice example: riverbank revetments, Duncan Bryden - experience gathered from Hands Across Firth Community Consultations.

This workshop took a look at the power of community networking by exploring local projects such as Harbour Net, Moray Firth Flotilla and Hands across the Firth. Delegates were asked how the MFP could help community projects to network and share best practice, as well as looking at what additional benefits the Partnership can offer members, such as a new online “Moray Firth Directory”.  The new features in the 2007 community grant scheme were discussed and participants then found out how their community can have its own free web pages on the MFP website and play a starring role in the new Community Corner.

Please follow the title links to read the HarbourNet and Moray Firth Partnership presentations.

Please follow this link to read the summary of discussions from the Community Networking workshop.


Workshop Session 2

D. Stakeholder Engagement
Chair: George Dobbie, Director, MFP
Speaker: Muriel Roberts, Chevron Upstream Europe

Chevron Upstream Europe has vast experience of building productive relationships with stakeholders worldwide. Murial Roberts shared some of Chevrons global experience with participants.  Muriel then went on to describe how Chevron has incorporated stakeholder consultation into their business from launching an on-line forum to involve the public in a debate about energy to creating a stakeholder engagement guide and training material.

Please follow the title link to view Muriels presentation.

E. Coastal and Marine National Parks
Chair: George Hogg, Director, MFP
Speaker: Katie Gillham, Scottish Natural Heritage

The creation of a Coastal and Marine National Park is intended to protect and showcase our impressive environment and promote the communities, industries and produce it supports. The Scottish Executive is currently running a consultation to decide where the first park of this kind in the UK should be located and how it might be run. Delegates with an interest in the coast and sea, from fishermen to sports enthusiasts and environmentalists were able to take this opportunity to have their say and also the chance to consider and debate the issues.

Please follow the title link to read the full presentation.

Please follow this link to read the summary of discussion from the CMNP workshop.

F. River Basin Management Planning
Speaker: Tamsin Morris, Scottish Environment Protection Agency

A lot has been heard about the Water Framework Directive over the past few years and this workshop offered participants the chance to hear more about how it will affect Scotland and to become involved. Tamsin Morris is the River Basin Planning Co-ordinator with the Scottish Environment Protection Agency, gave a brief background to the WFD, explained the role of RBMP and the Area Advisory Groups and Forums.  Tamsin went on highlight opportunities for people to be involved (Forum, updates etc) and made links to MFP eg as being a member of one of the AAG's. 

Please follow this link to read a summary of gathered delegates feedback.

Summary and Closing Address by Mike Comerford

Mike Comerford called the conference to a close by giving brief summaries about each workshop and comments made throughout the day.  The raffle was drawn with member Jim Miller from Bunchrew being the lucky winner of the ‘Taste of the Moray Firth’ hamper (pictured right with Mike comerford).  Delegates were thanked for coming and the Conference was officially drawn to a close. 





Date: 18th December 2006

The Moray Firth Partnership
Great Glen House
Leachkin Road

Tel: 01463 725027

Web Site: www.morayfirth-partnership.org