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Cape Wind offshore wind power proposal gets federal aviation authority approval

The long running dispute over the Cape Wind offshore wind project in Nantucket Sound, 30 miles from the shore of the state of Massachusetts, has come another step closer to a successful conclusion, with the issue of a DNE (Does Not Exeed) determination for 130 wind turbines.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) carried out an aeronautical study of the site and determined that the proposed turbines will not have an effect on aeronautical operations in the area and therefore presents no hazard to aircraft. Specifically, the ruling judged the wind farm does will not present a hazard and can proceed (in its view) as long as Cape Wind marks and lights all obstructions to planes, files the necessary construction forms with the FAA and builds no turbines above 440 feet above ground level.

The FAA determination is good news for Cape Wind, particularly given the fierce level of opposition from the Republicans and the Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound. Cape Wind first received FAA approval for the project in 2010. However opposition from the Alliance To Protect Nantucket Sound and citizens of the town of Barnstaple delayed work after an appeal. Questions over suspected political interference presented by a number of Republican Senators delayed the project further.

The latest ruling is the fourth of its kind issued by the FAA (following pressure from the project’s political opponents). It is regarded by Capital Wind as representing full permission for the project to go ahead.

The wind farm is the only offshore wind project to secure Federal and State approval. This has provoked some Republicans to consider investigating possible administration pressure on the FAA to approve the project, particularly given the doubts of some FAA officials over safety, a report in The Hill noted. The project’s Republican opponents have alleged that the Obama administration has tried to hush fears of interference with low-flying aircraft.

The Alliance To Protect Nantucket Sound and citizens of the town of Barnstaple now say they will look at the FAA ruling in detail with a view to issuing another legal challenge.

Written by Robin Whitlock

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