Cork Engineer elected President of Chartered Institution of Water and Environmental Management

6 September 2019
By Bryan Smyth

Fehily Timoney director, David McHugh, is 33rd President of the Chartered Institution of Water and Environmental Management

A consultant with over 20 years’ experience specialising in civil and environmental engineering is the new president of the Chartered Institution of Water and Environmental Management (CIWEM).

The UK-headquartered CIWEM is the leading chartered professional body dedicated to sustainable management of the environment globally and being appointed President is a massive honour, according to David McHugh.

It is in fact a double honour for Mr McHugh and the expert team at multi-award winning and Cork city headquartered Fehily Timoney as the firm celebrates 30 years in business this year and continues to grow its unrivalled portfolio of projects across the renewable energy, infrastructure, waste management and urban development sectors. He leads the Energy and Planning department at the globally-recognised engineering, scientific and planning consultancy firm and is also responsible for operations across the company.

David McHugh is passionate about environmental sustainability, which drives his professional and personal pursuits, and will be inducted as President at his Alma Mater, University College Cork (UCC), on September 12. The evening will be attended by members of CIWEM’s Trustee Board, including its outgoing President, David Wickens, as well as members of the organisation’s Republic of Ireland branch, which is co-hosting the event in conjunction with MaREI, the SFI Research Centre for Energy, Climate and Marine. It will include an address by Professor Jerry D Murphy, Chair and Professor of Civil, Structural & Environmental Engineering at UCC and Director of MaREI and is open to members of the public.

Mr McHugh says he’s revelling in the challenges ahead as the 33rd President of the 10,000-member professional institution. His Presidential theme is the climate and ecological emergency and he will focus on mobilizing the technical community to take action on the climate crisis and become effective change agents.

David McHugh, Fehily Timoney Director and 33rd President of the Chartered Institution of Water and Environmental Management.
Photography by Brendan Duffy.

“This is an expanded role for us in the technical community. The scientific disciplines have traditionally focused on establishing facts and analyses, which are in turn used by policy makers to inform their work. However, we need to become more vocal in promoting the most appropriate policy responses; indeed, we need to create champions of our members, as CIWEM noted in its declaration of a climate and ecological emergency in July 2019. In taking on this new advocacy role, we will need a new skill set.

“To mobilise society to action, we first need to engage people’s hearts. Storytelling will be an essential part of our toolkit. For millennia, humans have used storytelling to make sense out of life. Now we need a new story that will inspire the wider public and spur us into action to tackle this crisis. It will need to be underpinned by an inspiring vision with an audacious level of ambition. The story that I want to tell is how the human race reaches drawdown, a reversal of global warming or more specifically ‘the point in the future when levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere stop climbing and then start to steadily decline’.

“Environmental professionals must step up and provide leadership to the public in tackling the climate crisis. We need to embrace a bold vision: to reverse global warming. To achieve this, we must become storytellers, sharing this story of hope and opportunity,” Mr McHugh concluded.

Professor Patrick O’Shea, President of UCC said: “As one of the world’s leading universities in sustainability, we at UCC are delighted and proud of our alumnus, David, for this wonderful recognition of his accomplishments.”


CIWEM has for many years been recognised as an authoritative voice on water and environmental issues. With a heritage stretching back into the 19th century, the institution has played a key role in the careers of those leading advances in water supply, sanitation and treatment, public health and environmental challenges. Today, CIWEM represents and supports a community of 10,000 members in over 90 countries and is dedicated to sustainable management of the environment, globally.

As an independent charity CIWEM champions professional standards, impartiality and the use of scientific evidence in the management of the environment. It has members from scientific, engineering and environmental backgrounds. Its charter establishes its institutional objectives as working for the public benefit to:

· advance the science and practice of water and environmental management

· promote education, training, study and research and publish such research

· establish and maintain high standards of competence and conduct on the part of its members

About MaREI

MaREI is the SFI Research Centre for Energy, Climate and Marine coordinated by the Environmental Research Institute (ERI) at University College Cork. They have over 200 researchers in twelve 3rd level and research institutes in Ireland working with collaborators in more than 36 countries and 50 industry partners.

They focus on research, development and innovation that contribute to the energy transition, climate action, and blue economy.

They have a proven track record in scientific excellence and impactful research that empowers business, shifts policy and supports society. MaREI helps small energy and marine companies to develop new technologies and provide strategic guidance to large energy companies to harness the opportunities of the low carbon energy transition.

MaREI advise the Irish Government and the European Union on policies relating to both mitigating and adapting to climate change, and on sustainable marine development. Through engaged research and dialogue with communities, MaREI also supports the human and societal dimensions of climate action and marine conservation.

About Fehily Timoney (FT)

FT is a leading independent Irish owned engineering, environmental science and planning consultancy with offices in Cork, Dublin and Carlow. The practice was established in 1990 and currently has approximately 70 members of staff. FT supports clients from initial project planning and feasibility through to detailed design and construction supervision. The company is recognised as an industry leader in Ireland and internationally in the Renewable Energy, Civils Infrastructure and Waste & Resource Management sectors.

FT provides full service consultancy in all of its technical disciplines. In particular, the company provides a comprehensive service in environmental sciences including environmental impact assessment, statutory consents, air and noise modelling, geology/hydrogeology, hydrology and water quality, ecology and health and safety. Full engineering design services are available in-house, embracing the traditional civil and structural engineering areas of roads, bridges, solid waste management, water services, commercial and industrial developments, as well as renewable energy projects.

FT has been recognised on many innovative and challenging projects and has received numerous prestigious awards for its work, in Ireland, the UK and the Middle East.

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