Historic Preservation Council Advises Against Cape Wind


Over 30 historic properties will be permanently adversely affected by the project. Photo: Versageek via flickr.

Another twist in the long, ongoing saga of Cape Wind, the proposed 130-turbine wind power project planned for Nantucket Sound: The Advisory Council on Historic Preservation has advised that Interior Secretary Ken Salazar not approve the project on the grounds that the project's indirect and direct effects on historic properties in the area would be "pervasive, destructive, and, in the instance of seabed construction permanent. By their nature and scope, the effects cannot be adequately mitigated at the proposed site."In total, ACHP's assessment shows that Cape Wind will "adversely affect" 34 historic properties, comprising 16 historic districts, 12 "individually significant" historic properties, and 6 properties of "religious and cultural significance to tribes." Two of the historic districts in question are National Historic Landmarks: The Nantucket Historic District and the Kennedy Compound.

The Nantucket Historic District is nationally significant both for its association with the American whaling industry and for its remarkable concentration of well-preserved, whaling-industry related architecture. The island's principal historic village, Nantucket Town, remains one of the finest surviving architectural and environmental examples of an early 19th century seaport town in New England. The Nantucket Historic District includes the entire island of Nantucket (30,000 acres and some 75 miles of coastline). The Kennedy Compound, a six-acre family enclave in Hyannis Port, which fronts the northern side of Nantucket Sound, is nationally significant for its association with the Kennedy family and includes homes that Joseph P. Kennedy, John F. Kennedy, and Robert F. Kennedy once owned.

All in all the Council says the entire area of Cape Cod, Martha's Vineyard, Nantucket Island and Nantucket Sound itself are part of a "larger, culturally significant landscape" which has been for "thousands of years and remains still an read of prime national and local importance because of its substantial economic, recreational, social, cultural, and traditional cultural benefits and attributes."

Read the full comments by ACHP on Cape Wind for a more extensive summary of the impacts of the project on the area and on the Wampanoag tribe's traditional cultural practices.

Historic Preservation Not At Odds With Renewable Energy
But before you go off in a knee-jerk reaction, correctly pointing out that climate change itself could well have a serious negative impact on the area, consider that the Council also makes clear that, in their opinion, "development of alternative energy resources is an important national policy goal" which concerns about historic preservation need not impede. It's just that when proposing locations for a project, you need to take into account the impact on historic properties and areas just like you need to factor in the impact on endangered species, habitat disruption and environmental impact more broadly.

Which is a quite sensible position.

Council's Advice Need Not Be Heeded
Though Interior Secretary Salazar asked for the review by the ACHP, he does not have to follow the Council's advise. A spokesperson for Interior told Reuters that the Secretary will "fully and carefully consider the information and recommendations provided by the Council as he moves forward to make a final decision on the Cape Wind power project."

As expected the developers of Cape Wind issued a statement to the effect that though they disagreed with the findings of the ACHP on the impact of the project, they were pleased that Secretary Salazar had "a complete record in front of him" in making his final decision.

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More on Wind Power:
Cape Wind Faces New Spiritual Obstacle from Native Americans
Cape Wind Offshore Wind Farm Clears Another Permitting Hurdle
Final Draft Environmental Impact Study Issued for Cape Wind Energy Project

Tags: Massachusetts | Renewable Energy | Wind Power

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