The Fenwick Island Town Council on Friday, March 4, approved a resolution requesting that a federal agency that issues licenses for offshore wind farms require that wind turbines be placed at least 30 miles from the shoreline.
The council made the move following a presentation by Council Member Paul Breger, who chairs the Town’s Environmental Committee.
The resolution supports federal adoption of a 30-mile “exclusion zone” for offshore wind turbines for the entire state of Delaware. Breger cited precedents set by several other states in requesting similar limits from the federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM).
Breger said the state of New York requested a 20-mile zone after a 2015 study showing that 600-foot turbines “would dominate the horizon at 15 miles, negatively impacting the tourist industry by destroying ocean views.” He also cited concerns about impact of wind farms on the commercial fishing industry.
“New York State took the initiative and was successful at preventing BOEM from creating a lease area that would have been at the 15-mile mark,” Breger said.
The resolution from the Environmental Committee also cites a lack of studies on the impact of wind turbines on sealife – including seabed creatures, the endangered red knot birds and horseshoe crabs, whose blood is used in the creation of vaccines and upon whose eggs the red knots feed during their migration – from the underwater foundations of the turbines to the noise created by their operation.
Impact on Delaware’s coastline could be “extreme,” the resolution asserts, since current wind farm lease areas now stretch from Lewes south to the Delaware-Maryland state line. Since the size of wind turbines is being increased in many offshore wind projects, the distance from shore should be increased to at least 30 miles to mitigate impact on shoreline views, the resolution says.
The resolution also asks Congress and BOEM to ensure that it considers impacts on endangered species, such as the red knot, as well as on fishing grounds and shipping lanes, and to consider all environmental risks of wind turbines when determining lease areas.
The resolution passed unanimously, with both Council Member Bill Rymer and Mayor Vicki Carmean remarking “This is awesome” and praising the work of the Environmental Committee on drafting it.
In connection with the resolution, the council also agreed with the Environmental Committee’s view that a public forum on wind turbines and their impacts is warranted.
“The committee felt that we should present all this information to the public. We found out that a lot of local towns and communities didn’t really understand the gravity of the lease areas and what was going to happen to the shoreline,” Breger said.
A symposium on wind turbines is tentatively planned for the evening of April 22 at Indian River High School.
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