Strategy for a Carbon Neutral Waterford

Climate Neutral Waterford Our mission in Waterford City & County Council is to make Waterford the best possible place for all its’ people and for those that wish to live, visit, work or invest here.  This mission and the variety of projects at its heart were acknowledged when Waterford won the title of Best Place To Live In Ireland 2021. In keeping with its designation as Ireland’s Best Place To Live, Waterford is intent on leading the national climate change agenda and becoming the first city in Ireland to achieve carbon neutrality.

For the past decade and more, Waterford has been actively working towards Carbon Neutrality and preparing for impacts of climate change through both policy measures and the implementation of both adaptation and mitigation projects.

Climate Change Adaptation Strategy

It is accepted at this point that changes to our climate are already evident. The number and severity of extreme weather events has been steadily increasing over the past two decades and it is anticipated that this trend will continue for years to come.

These changes have implications in how the Council delivers its services to the citizens of Waterford and in this context in September 2019, the “Waterford City and County Council Climate Change Adaptation Strategy” was adopted by the elected members of Waterford City and County Council. The strategy will have a duration of 5 years and run until 2024 and be subject to a biannual review. The strategy was developed by the Environment Department of Waterford City and County Council. Support and guidance in the development of the strategy was provided by the “Department of Communications, Climate Action & Environment” and the Eastern and Midlands Regional Climate Action Regional Offices. The strategy focuses on the implementation of adaptation measures, which ensures communities, and society as a whole, become resilient to the impacts and risks of climate change.

The "Climate Change Adaptation Strategy" can be downloaded from the following link.

EU Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy

WC&CC has been a signatory to the EU initiative, the Covenant of Mayors (CoM), since the 10th of October 2019. The CoM is considered “the world’s largest movement for local climate and energy actions.” Signatories to the Covenant seek to ensure the acceleration of decarbonisation in their territories, an ever-strengthening capacity to adapt to and mitigate against climate change impacts and to allow their citizens access to a safe, secure, greener future. Waterford City and County Council is one of over 9,000 local and regional authorities across 57 countries committed to the Covenant.

In January 2022 the Council re-affirmed its commitment to the Covenant of Mayors with the adoption by the elected Council of a new Sustainable Energy and Climate Action Plan 2022 – 2030 (SECAP). The SECAP commits the Council to a wide range of climate and energy reduction measures and the full plan is available here.

Climate Action Plan 2022 – 2030

Under the Government’s Climate Action Act 2021, each Council is obliged to adopt a new Climate Action Plan that will set out the Council’s proposals to attain the national Climate Action objectives and targets.

The measures in this plan will be subject to annual reporting and performance measurement. Preparations to compile the draft plan are currently under way (April 2022) and the draft will be published here once available for public consultation. Please keep an eye on our News tab for updates.

Decarbonizing Zone

In April 2021, Waterford City and County Council nominated the entire area of Waterford City to be a decarbonized zone (DZ) under a Government initiative aimed at creating at least one DZ in each local authority area with the aim of achieving carbon neutrality in these zones by 2040. Demonstrating a really significant level of ambition and uniquely in Ireland, the Council has nominated an entire city area as the proposed DZ zone.

To support this application, the Council developed a Roadmap to Carbon Neutrality which can be downloaded here.

EU 100 Carbon Neutral and Smart Cities by 2030 Mission

In 2021, the EU Commission launched a hugely ambitious mission with the aim of supporting 100 cities across the EU to achieve carbon neutrality by 2030. In January 2022, Waterford, supported by a number of partners submitted a bid to join this mission but were not successful in our bid, with Dublin and Cork the successful entries from Ireland. Both Dublin and Cork have agreed to share best practice with Waterford. We look forward to working with and learning from Cork and Dublin in this regard.

Achieving carbon neutrality in Waterford Council – the story so far

The Council recognises that it must provide leadership in this area and demonstrate through real actions how transition to low / zero carbon can be achieved.

A successful transition to a low-carbon economy requires a bottom-up approach, from the Local Authorities to the Government, to promote awareness and implement projects across Ireland. To date, Waterford City & County Council is currently implementing and planning a range of measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Click on each thumbnail for a larger image.

Public lighting is our single largest energy user and the Council has recently signed contracts for a €9m the replacement of circa 15,000 public lights with new energy efficient LED lights (see thumbnail). It is expected that work will commence later in 2022 and be complete by Qtr 2 2023. When implemented the project will lead to over 55% savings in energy use and GHG emissions arising from our public lights and will also provide much greater system reliability while reducing maintenance costs. Click for a larger image
The Council is working towards making all of its buildings carbon neutral by 2025. With support from the SEAI over the past decade, the Council has upgraded building insulation, installed new heating systems including air to water heat pumps, CHP units and solar water heating in a number of its main buildings. A 50kw solar pv project was completed in Oct 2021 at the Council’s Dungarvan depot.
Following the closure of its three municipal land fill sites circa 14 years ago, the Council has constructed managed wetlands on these sites to treat the leachate runoff, installed wind turbines to provide power for the leachate pumping systems and created public amenities with parkland areas and nature walks on these sites.
Electric vehicles – commencing in 2013 and in partnership with ESB e-cars the Council has facilitated the installation of public ev charging points across 14 locations in Waterford. The Council is also planning for the electrification of its own vehicle fleet with the first tranche of electric vans due for delivery by summer 2022, EV charging points have been installed at Council depots and a further phase of EV procurement to commence shortly.
  • Smart litter bins – since 2019 the Council has been installing Smart solar powered compactor bins in its urban areas. These bins are networked through GSM technology with resulting reduced service frequency and greater capacity due to the solar powered compactors.

  • Active travel – given that the transport sector is the single largest source of carbon emissions in Waterford at some 35% of the overall total, travel is one of the key areas that needs to be addressed. In combine with significant investment from the National Transport Authority, the Council created a dedicated, specialist Active Travel team in 2021 which is charged with the development and implementation of a wide range of interventions including an extensive network of new cycle ways, footpaths and public transport priority measures between now and 2030 with the aim of facilitating a very significant modal shift to these sustainable transport solutions – more details on current projects can be found on our Active Travel section.