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Commissioners pass resolution opposing wind turbines built too close to shore

Published: Aug. 2, 2021 at 5:23 PM EDT
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BRUNSWICK COUNTY, N.C. (WECT) - If you visit Brunswick County beaches and you look out onto the horizon, you might see a boat or two, but for the most part, it’s empty. The Brunswick County Board of Commissioners wants to make sure that doesn’t change.

A resolution on the commissioner’s Monday agenda passed unanimously, aiming to discourage any potential wind turbines from being built along Brunswick County’s beaches that could obstruct some communities’ ocean view.

“Many of our coastal communities have already come out in opposition of the proximity, requesting that they go at least 24 nautical miles out,” said Board of Commissioners Chairman Randy Thompson. “In this particular resolution, what we’re saying is if you’re going to pursue that as a state and as a federal government, then you do that at 24 nautical miles or further out.”

While there aren’t any plans in the works for new wind turbines, the Bureau of Ocean Emergency Management issues leases for wind turbines to go up in the ocean as close as 10 nautical miles from the shore. They have no significant impact on the human environment, but there was never a study done on visual impacts those turbines would have.

Some municipalities have taken issue with the idea of turbines on the horizon possibly deterring tourists from visiting down the road. Despite those concerns, many beachgoers say the turbines wouldn’t change their beach of choice for vacation.

“I feel like I would come here more,” said Sarah Aamot, visiting Oak Island from Raleigh. “I feel like I would have more confidence that the state is doing things that is leaning in the right direction for green power and going away from oil.”

“We come here every year and it’d just be another thing on the horizon to look at,” said Barb Somrack, who traveled from Cleveland to enjoy the beach. “It wouldn’t bother me.”

Even if turbines were built 24 nautical miles out, other concerns would still go unaddressed.

“I’m also concerned about our birds,” said Commissioner Pat Sykes. “Even putting them up, it’s going to cost us even more for power. I’m just opposed to it. I don’t think it’s going to be beneficial.”

Monday’s resolution does not determine whether or not turbines can be put on the coast in the future, but Sykes says she hopes it discourages the federal government from pursuing that avenue.

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