The experience so far at the Block Island Wind Farm is that fishing near the wind farm is at least as good as it was before the wind farm. South Fork Wind Farm will be built using the same stakeholder engagement and data-based design principles that guided Block Island. All electrical cables will be safely buried beneath the sea floor so that all types of fishing vessels can safely navigate over them. In limited instances when a cable cannot be fully buried, a protective cover will be laid over it. The location of all the wind farm and cable components will also be clearly marked on navigational charts.
Importantly, the state and federal agencies that identified the project’s site intentionally excluded the slopes along the sea floor of the area called Cox Ledge because of their value to the fishing community. Additionally, offshore wind developers cannot restrict access to wind farm sites, and the Coast Guard does not impose restrictions around the turbine foundations after construction, so vessels are allowed to fish in and around them. In fact, the submerged portions of the structures act as an artificial reef, growing habitat such as seaweed that attracts sea life.
Finally, as a result of our stakeholder engagement efforts, we’ve already put measures in place that respond to the feedback we’ve received, including a gear loss prevention & compensation plan that has been in place for nearly two years. Similarly, in 2019, Ørsted and Eversource lead a joint effort among the five New England offshore wind leaseholders to develop and adopt a uniform turbine layout across the New England wind energy areas. The layout is a uniform 1 nautical mile – by 1 nautical mile, east-to-west and north-to-south, turbine layout across all the region’s lease areas. The spacing is consistent with re-quests from members of the fishing community and other maritime stakeholders during our conversations with those groups and would create 231 distinct transit lanes across the wind energy area. This layout features the largest turbine spacing in the world and focuses on safety of navigation and search and rescue capabilities.