Cape Wind receives federal approval

US: The US government has granted approval to Cape Wind, a Massachusetts offshore wind farm expected to be the country's first.

Interior secretary Ken Salazar visiting a Utah wind farm

Interior secretary Ken Salazar announced in Boston today that the 468MW project has cleared its final hurdle after nine years in development. Construction is expected to start within a year.

"This will be the first of many projects up and down the Atlantic Coast that will come online in the years ahead and will build a new clean energy future for our country," Salazar said.

He said his approval is conditional on project modifications that would help protect Nantucket Sound's historical and environmental resources.

But not all "modifications" are new. The wind farm's reduction from 170 to 130 turbines, cited by Salazar today, actually took place over seven years ago.

Salazar said the approval was not an easy choice to make. "There will be people who are unhappy with this decision," he said, citing concerns about cultural heritage, historic preservation and the approval process.

A Native American tribe had opposed the farm and threatened to sue if federal approval is granted. 

Nearby homeowners objected to the turbines' potential disruption to the seascape, and federal agency the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation told Salazar's office that approval for the project should be denied.

"Adverse effects on historic properties will be direct and indirect, cannot be avoided, and cannot be satisfactorily mitigated," the council said.

Boaters, court appeals, Indian rites - the nine-year saga of Cape Wind