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The Western Development Commission (WDC) is a statutory body that was set up to promote both social and economic development in the Western Region of Ireland by:

  • Developing strategic regional development projects in tourism, industry, marine, renewable energy, technology and organic agri-food, and so on.
  • Ensuring that government policy is directed at improving the social and economic situation in the region.
  • Operating the €32 million Western Investment Fund (WIF) to provide loans and equity to business and local communities in the West.

Small, flexible and regionally focused, the WDC collaborates with public, private and voluntary sectors. The organisation’s strong ethos of sharing intellectual and other resources means it is well placed to help achieve common good within the NPP region.

The WDC plays a key role in regional development – through strategic initiatives in various sectors such as renewable energy, creative economy, agriculture and tourism. It also provides a promotional platform for the region (, which serves to facilitate individuals and enterprise located in the region. In addition, it advises government on policies affecting the region (all proposals are based on comprehensive economic and social research). The WDC also ensures that government policy is directed at improving the social and economic situation in the Western Region and that the interests of the West are always considered at the highest levels of government. The Western Investment Fund (WIF) is also managed by the WDC – this was established to fill a ‘funding gap’ adversely affecting businesses and community groups in the region.

Supported by the Regional Wood Energy Advisory Group, the WDC has been leading a strategic wood-energy project since 2007. This has resulted in the Wood Energy Strategy for the Western Region, together with an economic impact study (December 2007). The WDC will build on this research to lead RASLRES. The Wood Energy Strategy mapped out a market-stimulation model (MSM) for the wood-energy sector in the region and the WDC will share this strategy with its RASLRES partners. The analysis used for the strategy can also be applied across the bio-energy sector because it identifies common features, such as:

  • basic principles to achieve regional growth of the sector
  • barriers to development, and
  • factors impacting on growth.

Benefits of bio-energy

Increased use of bio-energy will bring multiple benefits to the Western Region. For example, with regard to just the wood energy market, if the Western Region supplied 11 per cent of the regional heat market by wood fuel in 2020, the estimated impacts include the creation of 887 full time equivalents (FTE) jobs; increased annual gross value added (GVA) in the region of €15 million per annum; increased regional timber usage providing €1.7 million to the farming sector per annum; and CO2 emissions savings of 619,000 tonnes.

It is also anticipated that developing a market for wood thinnings and by-products will improve the management of local forestry and woodlands and provide benefits in terms of the quality of wood at final harvest and the wider environmental quality of the woods and forests themselves.
A huge potential bonus of RASLRES is that will help in achieving a critical mass in the wood heat industry. This lack of critical mass is one of the key market failures that RASLRES is designed to tackle. Each additional unit of activity will contribute to the achievement of the critical mass that will make wood heat competitive and sustainable.

RASLRES can also contribute to long-term viable economic activity in rural areas. Because bio-energy fuels make use of existing natural resources, most of the employment is rural, and high transport costs mean that activities are locally based, bringing benefits throughout rural areas.

Finally, appropriate and planned development of the bio-energy sector will give rise to greater awareness of the carbon economy and environmentally sensitive behaviours (both personal and corporate), including wider use of green technologies, which in turn will have benefit of the wider economy and, of course, the environment.

Lead Partner of RASLRES

The WDC is lead partner of the overall project and is responsible for:

  • finance management and processing of claims
  • governance (in respect to steering and operations committee meetings scheduling and administration)
  • archiving
  • communications and public relations
  • general administration.

Work Package 3

The WDC also takes the lead on Work Package 3 (WP3). WP3 will develop six pilot projects to test and demonstrate methods to commercialise new renewable energy market solutions. Using the market simulation approach (MSM), the pilots will develop supply chain solutions, stimulate fuel demand and provide technical and business advice to establish sustainable business models.

WP3 will also look at the commercial viability and effectiveness of the MSM approach and its economic impacts and benefits for the NPP region. It is anticipated that in the immediate term this will inform the NPP MSM and help define a scalable market stimulation model. In the long term, this will mean new viable commercial activity, involving innovative market solutions, new employment, adoption of new technologies, processes and systems and improved supplier/customer linkages.

The WDC will support the pilot projects with:

  • Market research and information, including a campaign to address the needs of fuel producers to end user through website, publication of guidelines, best-practice seminars.
  • Stimulating increased market use of bio-energies, by providing one-to-one advice on installations options to energy users and assisting with the completion of feasibility studies for end users.
  • Encouraging the development of fuel supply chains –for instance, providing technical advice to private forestry producer groups, a regional fuel inventory, and business development advisory services/mentoring.
  • Identifying best-practice policy and a regulation framework to support the sector, and isolating gaps and innovations at local, regional and national levels.

The WDC will also host a regional stakeholder group, which will meet approximately two to three times per year and guide the delivery of WP3.


Ian Brannigan
Chief Executive Officer (Acting)
Tel.: +353-86-604-8012

Find out more about the WDC at: