A group of fishermen opposed to the development of the Cape Wind offshore project off the US east coast has announced it has dropped its lawsuit and, instead, will work with the developer to protect the interests of both parties.
A legal settlement between Cape Wind and the Martha's Vineyard/ Duke's County Fishermen's Association (MVDCFA) was announced yesterday. The two organisations have agreed to work together to ensure continued fishing access to Horsehoe Shoal, where the proposed 468MW project is due to be built.
"Instead of being on different sides of the fence, we are going to work together to determine which areas are open to fishing, which areas will be successful for different kinds of fishing, and how to make that fishing safe," said Warren Doty, MVDCFA president.
As part of the deal, Cape Wind will help the fishermen establish a so-called permit bank, which will be used to purchase commercial fishing permits for lease to local fishermen. No information has been released about the financial terms that underpin the agreement between Cape Wind and MVDCFA.
In 2010, MVDCFA sued the US Department of the Interior (DoI), after the DoI awarded a federal lease to Cape Wind, allowing devleopment efforts to proceed. The suit was consolidated with several others and although MVDCFA has now withdrawn its suit, the other legal challenges remain as an obstacle.
"As Cape Wind gets closer to construction next year it is our hope that remaining opponents will sit down with us to seek common ground," said Mark Rodgers, Cape Wind communications director. The developer also awaits a ruling from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), which is undertaking a court-ordered reassessment of its earlier approval of the project.
Despite these risks, Rodgers says construction of the 130-turbine wind farm is set to begin next year, with commissioning scheduled for 2015. A contract for the design of Cape Wind's foundations was recently awarded (Windpower Offshore 28-May-12) Efforts to secure financing have begun. Cape Wind already has two power purchase agreements agreed for 77.5% of its forecast output.