Environmentalists Trying To BLOCK Solar Power Plant In New York

(REUTERS/Carlos Barria)

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Andrew Follett Energy and Science Reporter
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Environmentalists are trying to stop a solar power plant from being built in Shoreham, N.Y., to prevent trees being cut down.

Activists turned down an agreement with National Grid and NextEra regarding the new Shoreham Solar Farm. Environmentalists rejected the energy companies’ latest offer to set aside 300 acres of nearby forest land for preservation and donate $5 million to a green fund.

“We’re turning it down,” Dick Amper, executive director the environmentalist Long Island Pine Barrens Society, told Newsday. “We don’t believe we should tear down woodlands to clear-cut trees to do solar. It’s compromising the environment while proposing to help it.”

The solar farm will require about 300 acres of land to be cleared of trees and vegetation if it does get built. The land would have to be cleared to make way for the solar panels, which would generate roughly 9.5 megawatts of power. Environmentalists call this clear cutting “obscene” and hope to transform it into a state park instead, as they claim the land supports 15 rare plant species and 25 distinct wildlife communities.

A court stopped a previous attempt by environmentalists to block the same solar plant.

This wouldn’t be the first time a solar power plant has been stopped out of environmental concerns.

A Rhode Island town temporarily halted the building of a new solar power project in January for the next three months to promote safety and preserve the town’s rural character.

“I just think for safety’s sake and to protect the town, the developers and residents a moratorium is something reasonable,” Karen Carlson, a city councilwoman who voted for the Rhode Island ban, told The Coventry Courier. “The feeling among the vast majority in Greene, I think, is to preserve that district and keep residential areas as residential and industrial areas as industrial.”

Environmentalists are increasingly against wind and solar power at the local level. Even in comparatively progressive places like Vermont or Great Britain, wind and solar installations tend to be aggressively opposed by local residents.

Major environmental groups like the Center For Biological Diversity have a long history of pursuing legal action against “green” development, like wind turbines or solar farms, which it believes encroach on animal habitats and kill tens of thousands of birds.

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