Sian Crampsie

The firm developing an offshore wind farm off the coast of Massachusetts, USA, is facing fresh delays after a federal appeals court ruled that regulators had not complied with environmental laws in granting permits for the project.

Cape Wind is building the 468 MW project in Nantucket Sound but has faced strong resistance to its plans by opponents concerned about the environmental and visual impacts of the turbines.

A three-judge appeals court in early July overturned earlier rulings made by lower courts that had found regulators complied with environmental and endangered species laws in permitting the 130-turbine Cape Wind project.

Cape Wind said it was satisfied with the ruling and that it would return to the permitting processes that the appeals court said were insufficient.

“Cape Wind is pleased that with today’s federal court decision the bulk of baseless issues that opponents have raised over the years are put to bed, including navigational safety, whales, turtles, Indian artifacts, Migratory Bird Treaty Act permitting, oil spills, and the approval of the project’s Construction and Operations Plan,” Cape Wind CEO Jim Gordon said in a statement. “The Court remanded only two matters, neither of which should involve substantial delays.”

Cape Wind has faced over 20 lawsuits from opponents, who said that the developer would have to “go back to the drawing board” to add more data to the project’s environmental impact statement.

“The court said there needs to be a new analysis of the measures needed to reduce mortality and injury to endangered species including the roseate tern and the piping plover,” Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound President and CEO Audra Parker said in a statement. “Cape Wind would also need a permit under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act before proceeding with the project.”