While welcoming “sensible and deliverable” tourism initiatives such as the recently launched ‘Destination Waterford’ venture, the new Crystal project on the Mall, and the ‘Viking Triangle’ plan, local councillor David Cullinane believes there’s an even greater ‘green’ opportunity to be harnessed.
“Waterford City has traditionally been heavily dependent on manufacturing for jobs. This has in many respects thwarted entrepreneurial activity in the city and left us vulnerable as the jobless figure heads for 15,000,” he says.
He sees our tourism potential “as only one piece in the jigsaw and we need to develop other industries in the city. One of the emerging industries internationally is in the area of green technology. Waterford City is well placed to take advantage of this,” he asserts. “Waterford IT has leaped forward in terms of their research focus in recent years and the Eco-Innovation Research Centre is one its three centres of excellence.”
The Sinn Féin representative believes that to take full advantage the City Council needs to develop a ‘City Green Tech Plan’. One of its core aims, he suggests, would be to optimise the availability of funding from Sustainable Energy Ireland (SEI) and Science Foundation Ireland.
“Indeed Science Foundation Ireland has dramatically increased the amount of research in R&D clusters around the state. Waterford City could become one of the countries leading areas in Green Technology,” he submits.
Cllr Cullinane also feels that having such a plan in place “would focus our minds on practical things that we should be doing. It would encourage us to maximise the use of indigenous renewable energy such as wind, biomass and bio fuel, prioritise funding in local renewable energy projects, and work with local education providers in maximising our potential in this area.
“We could for example work with the local VEC to make free retraining opportunities available to unemployed trades-people to qualify them as energy rating assessors, or in the installation of solar, wood-pellet, ground heating and mini-wind turbines, as well as energy-saving and insulation systems.
“The potential is endless and I think a City Council Green Technology Plan would pull all of the stakeholders together and position the city as a national driver and leader in the area of green technology.”