Norwegian wind turbines and the conflict between the rights of Sami farmers
Norway faces tough choices about the future of two large, licensed wind farms for endangering the way of life of Sami reindeer herders, but it remains unclear whether they should be dismantled, a declared the Minister of Energy.
While ranchers in the Fosen region on the central coast of Norway have called for the removal of the giant machines and restoration of the landscape, the owners said they hoped to apply for a new license that would not violate the rights of the Sami.
“This is a fairly complex case both legally and politically,” Oil and Energy Minister Marte Mjoes Persen told Reuters on Tuesday after meeting with lawyers from Sami communities.
“It is important to stress that the government has a responsibility under international law for the legal rights of the interests of the Sami,” she said.
Reindeer herders across the country argue that the sight and sound of giant wind turbines frightens their animals grazing nearby and thus endangers centuries-old traditions.
The Norwegian Supreme Court unanimously ruled on October 11 that the construction of the Storheia and Roan wind farms in Fosen had violated the cultural rights of pastoralists set by international conventions and that the operating permits were therefore invalid.
But the court did not say what should happen next to the 151 wind turbines or dozens of kilometers of roads built to facilitate their construction, so the wind farms remain in operation for now.
Norway, the largest producer of oil and gas in Western Europe, aims to increase its production of renewable energies, such as wind power, by preparing for a transition to a greener economy.
Persen is planning a trip to the Fosen area to meet with ranchers and is not ruling out any issues, including dismantling the turbines, as part of a larger $ 1.13 billion ($ 1.52 billion Australians) which has become the largest onshore wind farm in Europe.
âThis could be one of many solutionsâ¦, but there can be other outcomes as well,â she said.
“We need a thorough process. It is premature to say that one thing or another is going to happen.”
Lawyers representing the ranchers said their clients saw only one possible option: a removal of the turbines.
“We are a little disappointed that (Persen) has not been more concrete on what needs to be done to address this human rights violation that occurs every day,” lawyer Jon told Reuters. -Andreas Lange after meeting the Minister.
“At the same time, the minister seems willing to deal with this matter quickly (…) and she promises that international law will (be) applied to Fosen,” Lange said.
The direct and indirect owners of the wind farms include the German Stadtwerke Muenchen and the Swiss BKW, as well as Fosen Vind, Statkraft, TroenderEnergi, Nordic Wind Power, Energy Infrastructure Partners and Roan Vind.