Thursday, February 4, 2010

City Council should develop a Waterford City Green Tech Plan

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. The current strategic focus on tourism as a key economic driver is sensible and deliverable. The recently launched ‘Destination Waterford’ venture in tandem with the new Waterford Crystal project and the Viking triangle plan will undoubtedly position the city to maximise its potential in this important area. But is this enough?

I see this 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. Waterford I.T. 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. To take full advantage of this I would like to see the city council develop a City Green Tech Plan. The plan could have as its core aim the need to optimise the availability of SEI and Science Foundation Ireland funding. Indeed Science Foundation Ireland has grown dramatically the amount of research in R&D clusters around the state. Waterford City could become one of the countries leading areas in Green Technology.

Having a city green tech plan 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.

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