Contested Spaces in the New Blue Economy: Competing for Connecticut’s Thames River Working Waterfront

Authors: Syma Ebbin, University of Connecticut, Nathaniel Trumbull*, University of Connecticut
Topics: Coastal and Marine, Economic Geography, Environment
Keywords: blue economy, planning, exclusion
Session Type: Virtual Paper
Day: 4/10/2021
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:15 AM
Room: Virtual 43
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Working waterfront space is limited and different waterfront dependent industries compete for coastal space with each other as well as non-waterfront dependent users. Coastal margins will be shrinking as sea levels rise due to climate change, squeezing already scarce port resources, exacerbating competition for these spaces, and generating conflicts. This paper focuses on the competition for waterfront space on the Thames River of Connecticut, a river bordered by the cities of New London, Groton and Norwich as well as the towns of Ledyard and Montville. Emerging wind power in the new blue economy looks to reshape port usage in the Thames River. The recent focus on wind generation by Connecticut, coupled with a set of competitive bidding events for wind generated electricity, has stimulated more demand for port space that will serve as a staging area for this offshore development. Although the development of wind power will not occur in Connecticut waters, but in waters off the coasts of Massachusetts or Rhode Island, Connecticut ports are anticipating port use by the wind companies with the winning bids. Also on the New London side of the Thames River, the US Coast Guard has initiated plans to build a museum in the midst of the transportation hub. On the Groton side, General Dynamics is expanding significantly the footprint of its construction facilities for a larger class of submarines. This paper explores the processes by which port space has been (re)allocated and contested and examines the nature of conflicts that have been generated.

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