Let’s ask about wind factories’ effects on birds and sea creatures


To the Editor:

I am looking forward with great interest to attending the Wind Energy Forum sponsored by POINT on August 8. Specifically, I welcome the opportunity to ask the representative of Governor Patrick to speak to the as-yet-unresponded-to comments of the U.S. Department of Fish and Wildlife Service to his then draft Ocean Plan.

Fish and Wildlife specifically noted the incompatibility with federal law by the plan’s failure adequately to study the impact on birds or to consider alternative locations. No such study had been done, nor have they been undertaken subsequently. Consequently no one yet knows how these wind factories will affect the various species of migratory and nesting birds that live and thrive in and around the Sound, including on the unique small islands off the Vineyard’s southwest coast, Noman’s Land and Penikese off Cuttyhunk. Because no study was done, we also don’t know how the 596 turbines in a 24 square mile area between Martha’s Vineyard, Nantucket, Cuttyhunk, and Noman’s Land will affect the recently sited pod of migrating right whales, currently listed as a “species threatened with extinction.”

In both Germany and Scotland, studies are being conducted to determine how offshore wind projects will influence the local aqua culture, as well as birds and mammals. Spiegel Online International notes that, “Germany’s Federal Maritime and Hydrographic Agency (BSH) has completed its first study of the impact of the wind farm — and found that the racket made by the construction of the site had scared off porpoises living in the area.” Scottish biologists at Aberdeen University are currently conducting research on the distress caused by offshore turbines and turbine construction to dolphin, whale, and porpoise populations by disrupting their echo-location (communication). The Scottish government also received the recently completed Offshore Valuation Study which states any development will “have the potential for significant effects” on marine wildlife, including bottlenose dolphins, porpoise, grey seals, wildfowl, and waders.”

They may build the wind factories yet, but at least they are making an honest effort to understand the consequences and mitigate the negative impact on marine and avian wildlife.

I hope many Vineyarders will join me at 7 pm on August 8, at the Chilmark Community Center, to ask questions of and express our opinions about the upcoming proposed changes to Noman’s, Cuttyhunk, and the surrounding waters. Meanwhile, please take a moment to learn more about these issues and others linked to wind development in our waters, by visiting POINT website, pointmass.org.

Joseph Miron BurkettChilmark