Offshore wind farms near Ocean City’s coast will again come up for discussion at Monday’s Town Council meeting.
Meghan Lapp, a fisheries liaison for Seabreeze Ltd. in Rhode Island, will outline concerns with how wind farms may affect commercial fishing, according to the agenda document. The presentation will also feature local fisherman George Topping.
The addition of wind farms could restrict fishing areas, according to the presentation outline in the agenda documents. Lapp cites the White Marlin Open as one major Ocean City event that could be affected by this since fishermen would have to avoid areas with wind turbines.
The presentation also outlined a few other concerns that will be discussed Monday, including the effect on marine life. Researchers have found a correlation between the wind farms in the North Sea and English Channel and the increased number of beached whales in that area. The documents say the wind turbine rotors create pulses that affect whale communication and navigation.
The presentation claims that if the Board of Ocean Energy Management finds significant reason to believe the wind farms will harm natural resources, then it could stop the project from happening.
Wind farms have been a hot topic in Ocean City for the past few years.
Deepwater Wind and US Wind received approval in 2017 to construct two wind turbine projects off of Ocean City. The projects represent a critical test for the future of offshore wind development in the United States. They are set to become the first large-scale projects of their kind.
The Town Council has been opposed to the idea of installing wind turbines off the Ocean City coast, mostly due to aesthetic and tourism reasons. Council members have said they do not want wind turbines to ruin the beach’s horizon.
Although council members say they embrace the green energy wind farms would provide, they want to see the turbines placed farther away.
When the wind farms project was first proposed, U.S. Winds had set the distance at 12 miles off the Maryland shore. The council asked them to push it back, so the company changed it to 17 miles, but council members have pushed for 26 miles off the coast.
Even though the Town Council has been vocally against the wind farms, it is ultimately not their say as the turbines would be located in federal waters. Lapp’s presentation will give further evidence as to why the council should oppose the project.
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