Ocean Act plan defines areas for industry along Island shores
Massachusetts Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Ian Bowles yesterday released the nation's first draft comprehensive ocean management plan for public review and comment. A final version of the plan is due at the end of the year.
The draft plan would allow for small wind farms of 10 or fewer turbines off the immediate Vineyard coast and larger wind farms to be developed south and west of Nomans Land and west of Cuttyhunk. It will also extend the regulatory authority of the Martha's Vineyard Commission to certain ocean projects.
The ocean management plan is part of an effort to regulate and offer guidance to offshore developments, including wind turbines, cables and pipelines, and sand mining projects. About two percent of state waters would be opened to commercial wind development, capable of supporting about 600 total megawatts, enough to power up to 200,000 homes, according to the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs.
"Throughout our history, Massachusetts state waters have supported an array of uses along with vital habitat for a wide variety of species," Gov. Deval Patrick in a press release. "The draft ocean plan combines the best available science with extensive stakeholder input to present a new standard of protection and sustainable use for our oceans."
On May 28, 2008, Governor Patrick signed the Oceans Act of 2008, which required Secretary Bowles to develop a comprehensive ocean management plan, with a draft plan due by June 30, 2009 and a final plan promulgated by December 31, 2009. Governor Patrick also appointed a 17-member Ocean Advisory Commission (OAC) to assist Secretary Bowles. In addition, Secretary Bowles appointed an Ocean Science Advisory Council (SAC) to assist him in the planning process.