Maine’s Board of Environmental Protection has approved a $3,864 consent agreement between the state and Fox Islands Wind LLC for trenching work done prior to approval in 2009 on Vinalhaven.
Fox Islands Wind has already paid the fine, according to the consent agreement.
The BEP met Aug. 19 for a regularly scheduled meeting in Augusta and unanimously approved the agreement. The BEP is a 10-member advisory board whose citizen members are appointed by the governor to provide independent decisions on environmental protection laws and Maine Department of Environmental Protection decisions. The BEP regularly considers consent agreements and policies.
According to the agreement prepared by the DEP, Fox Islands Wind received permits in June 2009 to build a small-scale wind energy development on leased land on Vinalhaven and to clear 77,126 square feet of vernal pool habitat there. In September 2009, Fox Islands Wind submitted permit modification applications to remove more soil and alter 3,604 more square feet of significant vernal pool habitat. Significant vernal pools are defined as critical habitat within 250 feet of the spring or fall high water mark of a vernal pool depression. They are considered essential environments for amphibians that breed there in the spring.
In November, DEP staff inspected the wind power site and determined that Fox Islands Wind had dug trenches and removed vegetation in the vernal pool areas in order to place grounding wires in two stormwater buffers. The work was done before the modification applications had been approved by the DEP. The DEP issued a notice of violation in November, and then in December, issued the permits for the additional alterations to the site.
The DEP penalized Fox Islands Wind for $3,864, which the company paid. The size of the penalty, according to the DEP, reflected the size of the violation, the knowledge of the violator, and that the violation could have been avoided.
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