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Turbine partisans put spin on proposed ban

A provision tucked into a massive Coast Guard authorization bill could stop the Cape Wind debate in its tracks.

If approved, the amendment being considered by a conference committee would ban wind turbines within 1 miles of shipping and ferry lanes.

On Nantucket Sound, the footprint of the proposed 130-turbine offshore wind farm lies well within that range - in fact, just a mile from Cape and Island ferry routes.

David Scudder, a vice-president for Hy-Line Cruises, called the proposed zoning common sense policy since the turbines could push recreational boats into the path of ferry traffic - especially in foul weather.

''There's always a challenge in navigation when it's foggy,'' he said. ''There's a multitude of vessels out there, and this will just add another target.''

Of course, with no other offshore wind farms in the United States, and no clear federal guidelines, the appropriateness of the policy is open to interpretation.

Supporters of the amendment say building large turbines within 1 miles of shipping routes could threaten navigation as well as Coast Guard radar. And they point to ongoing analysis by the United Kingdom's Maritime and Coastguard Agency as evidence.

But Cape Wind proponents insist the experience of offshore wind farms in Europe - particularly in Denmark - has yielded... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  
If approved, the amendment being considered by a conference committee would ban wind turbines within 1½ miles of shipping and ferry lanes.

On Nantucket Sound, the footprint of the proposed 130-turbine offshore wind farm lies well within that range - in fact, just a mile from Cape and Island ferry routes.

David Scudder, a vice-president for Hy-Line Cruises, called the proposed zoning common sense policy since the turbines could push recreational boats into the path of ferry traffic - especially in foul weather.

''There's always a challenge in navigation when it's foggy,'' he said. ''There's a multitude of vessels out there, and this will just add another target.''

Of course, with no other offshore wind farms in the United States, and no clear federal guidelines, the appropriateness of the policy is open to interpretation.

Supporters of the amendment say building large turbines within 1½ miles of shipping routes could threaten navigation as well as Coast Guard radar. And they point to ongoing analysis by the United Kingdom's Maritime and Coastguard Agency as evidence.

But Cape Wind proponents insist the experience of offshore wind farms in Europe - particularly in Denmark - has yielded no evidence that turbines are unsafe anywhere closer than a mile to shipping.

And, proponents say, there's more at stake than just the Nantucket Sound proposal. ''Clearly, if this amendment passes, it will not only stop the Cape Wind project,'' said Jim Gordon, president of Cape Wind. ''But it will harm the emergence of the wind industry in America.''

On Jan. 30, a coalition of environmental groups sent a letter urging the congressional conferees to scrap the amendment, calling the buffer ''extreme and unnecessary.'' They say the Energy Policy Act signed last summer by President Bush already charged federal agencies to develop ''necessary regulations'' about the effects of offshore wind projects. That framework, they say, has not yet been completed and should not be decided by lawmakers.

''The agency responsible for navigational safety, the U.S. Coast Guard, should be given the opportunity to properly study this issue...without having the outcome prejudged,'' reads the letter, signed by numerous groups, including Cape and Islands Self-Reliance, Clean Power Now, Greenpeace and the Conservation Law Foundation.

They also cite experiences in Denmark, where the Middlegrunden wind farm off Copenhagen stands closer than one-third of a mile to a busy shipping lane but has produced no problems since it was built in 2001.

But Charles Vinick, the CEO of the Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound who went to Washington to lobby for the amendment, also points to a European example.

According to a draft guideline, the British Coast Guard has suggested that wind farms greater than 2 nautical miles from a shipping lane are ''tolerable.'' But inside 1½ miles, the agency reports, the projects interfere with radar and require ''very close and critical scrutiny.''

''They are way ahead of us,'' Vinick said of the English. ''And have more projects in the pipeline.''


Source: http://www.capecodonline.co...

FEB 19 2006
https://www.windaction.org/posts/1388-turbine-partisans-put-spin-on-proposed-ban
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