In response to last week’s Commentary, titled “Evidence Shows Wind Farms Will Not Affect Shore Towns,” we would like to share several facts.
First, the proposed wind farm project off LBI will include several hundred wind turbines that are as tall as the Eiffel Tower with supporting cable connections to shoreline infrastructure. This is a massive industrial project to be located in a pristine area. The turbines will be clearly visible from all of our beaches on LBI, not just one or two turbines, but many turbines. They will present a view that most would not expect nor enjoy when living or vacationing here.
Recent research conducted by North Carolina State University and the University of Delaware and sponsored by the federal agency in charge of this project, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, revealed that a majority of those surveyed who previously rented shore properties would not rent or visit again if turbines were in view. Many indicated they would not visit a beach if turbines were in view. The project, as proposed, will very clearly have an adverse impact on our property values, vacation rentals, tourism, hospitality and more.
We are not opposed to wind energy if done properly with regard to protecting the environment and communities affected. However, we are very concerned about the highly visible and economic impact of the project as currently proposed. We must also clearly understand the potential impacts on migratory fish, birds, commercial and charter fishing and water recreation before moving forward.
Make no mistake, the lease area off LBI is very close to shore, starting at 10 miles and extending to 23 miles. Atlantic Shores has stated its intention to populate the entire lease area with several hundred of the largest turbines available. Those turbines are 2½ football fields high. They will be taller than the Statue of Liberty and approximately as tall as the Eiffel Tower in France.
This project would then have the greatest visible impact of any other modern wind farm in the world. The Block Island, R.I., project that was referenced as evidence that tourism won’t be affected is a very small project. It consists of only five small turbines and is nowhere near the scope of the several hundred large turbines facing LBI’s pristine beaches.
We must ask ourselves, if visible impact from turbines was not a problem in Europe, then why are they siting their large turbine wind farms greater than 50 miles out from their shorelines so that the turbines can’t be seen? How is it that the community of Cape Cod, Mass. rallied together to ensure their wind farm is not visible from their shores? Why are the projects off the coasts of Virginia, Massachusetts and others sited much farther out than ours? Why is the proposed project off the coast of LBI the largest to date, with the tallest turbines so very close and visible from our shores?
There are several options to mitigate the visible impact of these large turbines so close to LBI. The turbines can be moved farther out to sea where they will not be visible. Smaller turbines can be installed. The project can be downsized with fewer turbines. The lease area can be altered to allow installation of turbines in less visible locations.
However, there is no process in place now to engage with the federal agency to ensure that this happens. And we are quickly running out of time. Once Atlantic Shores submits its construction and operation plan in March to the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management and BOEM accepts it as its proposed action, it will be extremely difficult, if not impossible, to change the location of the turbines or their number or size.
We have been working with Dr. Bob Stern, a resident of Beach Haven and engineer who has 12 years of experience managing the environmental impact statement process for the U.S. Department of Energy. We have learned that the time to secure fundamental changes to the proposed project is before BOEM accepts the company’s construction and operation plan. To make that happen, we have requested an “early scoping process.” The urgency of this request will be reinforced if BOEM hears from many of us on LBI.
To all LBI residents, state and municipal officials, local business owners and interested parties: Please join us in support of creating an early scoping process and working together to mitigate the impact of the proposed project and preserve the beauty and value of LBI for future generations.
For more information or to help work on promoting the early scoping process, please contact LBI residents Jim Binder at email@example.com or Wendy Kouba at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jim Binder and Wendy Kouba
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