Wareham: AD Makepeace proposes to strip another 54 acres of Pine Barrens forest for industrial solar and battery storage

  Katherine Harrelson 

Partial Victory! 3/8/2024: State requires environmental impact report after over 120 comment letters were sent – but the state still ignores the Damage to the Environment from SAND MINING!

March 8, 2024: The Massachusetts Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs issues the MEPA Certificate on the North Wareham Solar project. The destructive solar project is proposed by AD Makepeace Cranberry Co. and its former executives who spun off “Renewable Energy Development Partners” (REDP) to build solar.

The Certificate is below. Comment letters are attached to it. This includes strong comments from the Herring Pond Wampanoag Tribe of Plymouth/Pautuxet about the impact of solar on its sovereign lands.

The Certificate is a partial victory for the grassroots and the planet because it requires an environmental impact report that takes a “holitistic” look at Makepeace’s past and future solar projects – about 15 of them in this area. BUT the state ignores the Elephant in the Room: SAND MINING! Why? Is it because AD Makepeace Cranberry Co. and its affiliates were the largest contributors to Governor Maura Healey’s inaugural party in 2022 according to the Boston Globe? Sign the petition to the Governor for a Moratorium on Sand Mining and demand accountability!

Don’t be fooled by cranberries – Makepeace’s CEO and President admits the cranberry company can’t survive without the profits from its industrial scale sand mining operations. Read his court testimony below where he says Makepeace would suffer a substantial hardship if it had to stop sand mining.

The Certificate does not require Makepeace to study the Damage to the Environment from Makepeace’s decades of massive sand mining operations in the area — from Makepeace’s Read Custom Soils operation at 46 Federal Road in Carver all the way to the Frogfoot mine in Plymouth and the Charlotte Furnace Road and Farm to Market Road mines in Wareham. The next step in the MEPA process is for Makepeace and REDP to do a draft environmental impact report which will then be put out for public comment.

January 31, 2024 Makepeace MEPA Environmental Notification Form filed

Beals and Thomas, on behalf of AD Makepeace, files an Environmental Notification Form with MEPA. A MEPA ENF was required because Makepeace will obliterate over 54 acres of forest meeting a MEPA threshold. Makepeace has already been commercially logging the land.

Makepeace’s Environmental Notification Form is here.

Background:

This project is part of a string of solar projects that Beals and Thomas, along with landowner AD Makepeace, are proposing along Tihonet Road in Wareham. All told, if all of the projects go through, Wareham will lose another 230 acres of forest to solar development.

Global Biodiversity Threatened

Makepeace’s proposed solar projects lie at the heart of the Southeastern Massachusetts Pine Barrens forest, home to 40 natural communities and over 200 state-listed rare, threatened and endangered species. The company has already destroyed Priority Habitat for listed species with the blessing of the state Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Program that gave permits to “take” or kill the species. In states like New Jersey, the Pine Barrens are federally protected, but in Massachusetts has not taken the initiative.

Image courtesy of Southeastern Massachusetts Pine Barrens Alliance

The Pine Barrens in Massachusetts are threatened by industrial sand mining, reckless development projects and ground mounted solar. This unique ecosystem is being obliterated while the state stands by. Southeastern Massachusetts is targeted for industrial solar and energy projects because of relatively inexpensive land. Local zoning controls are undermined by the “Dover Amendment” for solar that is used by corporations to threaten municipalities with lawsuits if they don’t approve their projects. Support the legislation to eliminate the Dover Amendment for large solar here.

Concentrations of Solar Development in Massachusetts by size. Image courtesy of Mass Audubon.

Numerous studies confirm that Massachusetts can meet its goals for more solar energy by siting projects on the built and disturbed environment. We do not need to lose our globally rare ecosystems to meet our green energy needs. Read more in the 2023 Mass Audubon and Harvard Forest report, Growing Solar, Protecting Nature.

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