Rhode Island first state to receive offshore NOAA approval

UNITED STATES: Rhode Island's ocean management plan to support offshore wind development has become the first to be approved by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

Block Island is set for Rhode Island's first offshore wind farm
The Rhode Island Ocean Special Area Management Plan (Ocean SAMP) aims to improve state review processes and policies to facilitate the development of offshore projects across an area that spans approximately 1,467 square miles over portions of Block Island Sound, Rhode Island Sound and the Atlantic Ocean.

"By developing this plan, Rhode Island has emerged as a national leader in coastal management and ocean stewardship," said NOAA Administrator Jane Lubchenco, who joined state leaders on the shore of Narragansett Bay last week to recognise the plan's approval.

"This plan takes into account all ocean uses for enhancing commercial, recreational and environmental goals. This plan is what President Obama envisioned in the National Ocean Policy and it sets a great example for other coastal states."

With NOAA's approval of the state's Ocean SAMP under the federal Coastal Zone Management Act, Rhode Island becomes the first state to have incorporated a comprehensive ocean special area management plan in its coastal zone management programme.

This approval means that enforceable policies in the Ocean SAMP for protecting existing activities such as fishing, important habitats and archaeological resources, and identifying areas suitable for energy projects, may be applied to federal actions in federal waters.

The approval follows the court backing of a power-purchase agreement for the pilot 30MW Block Island offshore wind farm at the start of July.