Endangered bird stops a solar energy project in Hampshire County

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AMHERST, Mass. (WWLP)- The town of Amherst has ended its agreement with SunEdison, a company that wanted to install a solar array on a site off Old Belchertown Road in Amherst.

The town learned that construction on the old landfill, was home to an endangered species. That species is the grasshopper sparrow, a bird is listed under the Massachusetts Endangered Species Act. State officials said the solar project could put the species at risk. Amherst had also agreed to build some solar collectors at the “new” landfill, a short walk away on Belchertown Road.

“People here definitely care about that, they are green oriented, said Luke Davin of Amherst. “You can help protect the species and move the solar system to a different area. That’s beneficial to the community. It’s not a problem.”

SunEdison and the town had been communicating since December. But the Town Manager said the town will not move forward with development of the site. State officials are pushing for solar development. Some residents say it’s good to wait.

“I think we need to keep an eye on that, but we need to do more research to see what the impact is on our life and the environment,” said Xin He of Amherst.

There’s still a chance a solar array could be built at the new landfill site, preserving the old landfill as a habitat for the endangered grasshopper sparrows.

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