Vineyard Wind has signed an agreement committing to implement protective measures for North Atlantic right whales during construction and operation of its 800MW offshore wind project in Massachusetts.
The U.S. company signed the deal to protect the critically endangered species with the National Wildlife Federation, the Natural Resources Defense Council and the Conservation Law Foundation.
Among a number of measures, Vineyard Wind committed to avoiding pile driving from January to May due to the likely presence of the whales, while in November and December, as well as from 1 to 14 May, an Enhanced Mitigation Protocol will be implemented during each day for which pile driving is scheduled.
Geophysical surveys should not take place from the beginning of the year until 14 May, with a potential exception for infrequent surveys that are essential during the construction and micro-siting of the project to ensure proper installation or maintenance of post-construction.
A mandatory vessel speed restriction of 10kn shall be observed within Dynamic Management Areas (DMAs) established by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Fisheries, with certain exceptions for crew transfer vessels.
Vineyard Wind has also made a USD 3 million commitment to develop and deploy technologies that ensure heightened protections for North Atlantic right whales and other marine mammals.
The parties agreed that the measures will remain in place for five years unless extended or modified by mutual agreement.
The 800MW project will feature MHI Vestas 9.5MW turbines some 14 miles south of Martha’s Vineyard. The wind farm is scheduled to enter the construction phase this year and is expected to be operational in 2021.