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Offshore Wind

Cape Wind not a flight hazard – F.A.A.

The planned 420-megawatt Cape Wind offshore wind project off the coast of Nantucket Sound in Massachusetts won’t make the area dangerous for aircraft. The Federal Aviation Agency has issued its fourth “Determination of No Hazard” for the Cape Wind Project. The agency has been reviewing the project since 2002.

The $2.5 billion Cape Wind project is expected to produce an average of 170 MW of electricity a year, enough for around 420,000 homes in the nearby communities of Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket Island.

While project plans put its start date at 2015, the project has been kind of stuck, mostly because of protests from locals. The area is known for being filled with summer homes – often reached by small aircraft – and rich fishing grounds.

Many feel that placing the Cape Wind project in the Nantucket Sound will damage the area’s reputation by being an eyesore, a hazard to fishing boats and aircraft, and repellent of fish.

Step closer

But in June of this year, the Martha’s Vineyard/Dukes Country Fishermen’s Association and Cape Wind came into a settlement agreement on the fishermen’s case against the project. (See related story.)

This and the F.A.A. approval is seen by Cape Wind as a sign that they are a step closer towards completing the project.

According to Cape Wind communications director Mark Rodgers, they have also received tactical approval from Cape Air, the largest commercial user of airspace over Nantucket Sound.

Senator Dan Wolf, founder and chief executive officer of Cape Air, had submitted a letter to the F.A.A. which stated that he agreed with its decision that the project was not a hazard.

“Cape Wind is the first and only U.S. offshore wind farm to have received all required Federal and State approvals, a Commercial Lease, and an approved Construction and Operations Plan,” stressed Mr. Rodgers.

Not everyone is happy though. Audra Parker of the organization Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound told the Boston Globe that they would appeal the F.A.A. decision and that there are still four other outstanding lawsuits against the project.

“It’s unfortunate the F.A.A. once again ignored very real safety concerns and ignored the previous court decision to revoke Cape Wind’s aviation safety permit,” said Ms. Parker.

Last October, a federal appeals court overturned a previous “no hazard” ruling by the F.A.A. saying they hadn’t considered the project’s effects on pilots who fly by sight alone. (Katrice R. Jalbuena)

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