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New arms bill could block plans for Cape wind farm  

The proposed Cape Cod wind farm may face another hurdle because of a defense bill passed by the Senate yesterday that calls for government to study whether the windmills interfere with military radar. The proposed 130-turbine park, to be built in Nantucket Sound, is near a missile defense surveillance system.

Senator John Warner, a Virginia Republican who is a fierce critic of the project, inserted the language during last-minute negotiations of the Defense Authorization bill. Warner, who has visited Cape Cod for more than a half-century, has unsuccessfully tried twice before to block the proposal, because he says there is little federal oversight governing construction of offshore farms.

Yesterday’s amendment calls for a study to be submitted within 180 days analyzing the effects of windmill farms on military readiness, and on technologies that could help with any adverse affects. The bill now goes before an as-yet unscheduled House-Senate conference.

The issue previously was debated in Britain.

There, the Ministry of Defense found that the rotation of some turbine blades could mask the signal of small aircraft flying above a wind farm,and could pose a flight hazard.

The British Ministry of Defense said yesterday that it evaluates each wind farm proposal on a case-by-case basis.

The amendment ”is a prudent step that builds on the experience in the United Kingdom and ensures that Congress will possess as much information as possible on wind farms’ impact on military operations,” John Ullyot, Warner’s spokesman, said in a statement.

Both the Federal Aviation Administration and the US Air Force, which runs the Cape Cod missile radar system known as PAVE PAWS, said the proposed wind farm would have no impact on flights or military operations.

Officials at Cape Wind Associates, which is proposing the farm, declined to comment last night. But advocates of the wind farm called the move an obvious ploy to derail the project.


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