Career profile: Edwina White, MIEMA CEnv

31st January 2023


Environment and consenting manager for development-phase Irish offshore wind farm projects, DP Energy Group

Why did you become an environment/sustainability professional?

To have the opportunity to work on large infrastructure projects, while contributing meaningfully to climate action.

What was your first job in this field?

Graduate scientist in the development team of renewable energy firm Airtricity.

How did you get your first role?

I applied for the graduate programme with Airtricity, prior to its acquisition by SSE. With around 500 applicants for two places, there were gruelling rounds of interviews, aptitude tests and personality tests. I felt like I’d won the lottery when I was offered my place and I made the most of every opportunity.

What does your current role involve?

I lead the environmental appraisal, development consent application and maritime area consent application preparations for three offshore wind farm projects in Irish waters. A typical day changes as the project progresses but currently it involves working closely with the Environmental Impact Assessment Report (EIAR) consultants.

How has your role changed/progressed over the past few years?

Two years ago, I moved from working on the development of large onshore wind projects (~50 MW) to the development of even larger offshore wind projects (~1 GW).

What’s the best part of your work?

Numerous colleagues, consultants, subconsultants and advisors rowed together for months to publish EIAR Scoping Reports for two of our offshore wind projects. Publishing the reports on schedule was a significant milestone and the huge team effort made for the best days in my role so far.

What’s the hardest part of your job?

Working in an emerging industry for Ireland, against the backdrop of an evolving policy and consenting framework. That’s also what makes it the most exciting.

What continuing professional development are you undertaking?

I’m currently taking an advanced diploma in planning and environmental law with King’s Inns.

What do you bring back to your job?

Greater understanding of the degree to which case law informs consenting risk for large infrastructure projects.

What is/are the most important skill(s) for your job?

Project development experience as this informs effective risk management.

Where do you see the profession going?

Growing, with Cork City becoming a hub for Irish offshore renewable energy development and deployment.

Where would you like to be in five years’ time?

Working in a thriving Irish offshore renewable energy sector as project lead for a large-scale wind development.

What advice would you give to someone entering the profession?

Bank a solid science or engineering degree and then seek a place on a graduate programme with a renewable energy developer. After that, make the most of this opportunity-laden industry.

How do you use the IEMA Skills Map?

To ensure my professional development is on track.

If you had to describe yourself in three words, what would they be?

Determined and hard-working.

What motivates you?

Seizing opportunities that my grandmother’s generation couldn’t, in the city in which she lived.

What would be your personal motto?

In the words of Taylor Swift: “If you’re experiencing turbulence or pressure, that probably means you’re rising.”

Greatest risk you have ever taken?

Travelling alone to Ecuador at 21 to join the ecology conservation effort.

If you could go back in history, who would you like to meet?

Catherine the Great.

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