US Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar has given the official go-ahead for construction to start on the USA’s first offshore wind energy project.

Salazar has announced the approval of the Cape Wind project’s Construction and Operation Plan (COP), giving the green light for the 130-turbine project in Nantucket Sound to go ahead. The announcement marks a milestone in the development of the US offshore wind energy industry, said the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA).

“Offshore wind power is the new frontier for our industry,” said Denise Bode, CEO of AWEA. “Thank you to Secretary Salazar for being a champion of offshore wind and for his commitment to making this industry a reality.

“The Secretary understands the manufacturing and job opportunities that offshore wind brings to America and knows that it needs long-term policy support in order to do so.”

The 468 MW project off the coast of Massachusetts will be equipped with Siemens wind turbines and has been ten years in planning by US-based Cape Wind Associates. The project faced strong opposition from local environmental and residents groups.

Salazar said that the Department of Interior had “taken extraordinary steps to fully evaluate Cape Wind’s potential impacts on [the] environmental and cultural resources of Nantucket Sound”.