March 4, 2024

Sami reindeer herders reached a partial agreement with Norway over the Fosen wind farm, Europe’s largest onshore wind power project located in central Norway, closing one chapter of a more than 20-year conflict over the wind turbines.

In October 2021, Norway’s Supreme Court ruled that the Fosen wind farm violated the Sámi’s human rightsspark multiple demonstrations in Oslo, the country’s capital. The latest demonstration celebrated the two-year anniversary of the judgment and drew attention to Norway’s refusal to take up the case, resulted in 11 ministries are closed and entrances to Statskraft, the state enterprise behind the project, are blocked by human rights campaigners. Sami youth at last met with King Harald V of Norway in a last ditch effort to secure support.

“I am happy that those in the south of Fosen now have security and a guarantee that they can continue their livelihood and culture with reindeer husbandry,” said Silje Karine Muotka, president of the Sami Parliament of Norway. “But what happened here is serious. This is a human rights violation.”

The agreement, reached earlier this week, only covers reindeer herders south of the Fosen wind farm, but there are two communities, known as “siidas”, affected by the project. For side axis south of Fosen, Statskraft will pay 7 million Norwegian kroner ($674,211) every year for 25 years – the expected lifetime of the wind turbines. The wind farm will continue to operate for that time, after which the southern Fosen siida can decide on the project’s future, preventing Statkraft from applying for license extensions or renewals at the site without Sami consent. The Norwegian government will also help reindeer herders to use additional winter grazing areas near the Fosen reindeer herding district with the aim of securing those lands by the winter of 2026.

“The Fosen case was challenging for all parties,” said Terje Aasland, minister of petroleum and energy. “I am therefore happy that the parties and the state have reached a mutually agreed, good and forward-looking solution through the mediation process. My hope is that this will enable new generations to continue reindeer herding at Fosen.”

However, no agreement was made with the affected siida north of Fosen, who continued to demand the demolition of more than 40 wind turbines owned by another company. Ane — A Norwegian renewable group.

“I don’t want to criticize the southern Fosen herd, although I imagine that the government now sees it as a possibility to invade first and solve it later with payment,” said Terje Haugen, a reindeer herder from the struck siida, said. “We in the northern Fosen district stand firm in our decision.”

Stig Tore Laugen, communications director for Aneo, said that ongoing mediation was confidential, adding that in the case of south Fosen “it was crucial that the government, which is responsible for violating the reindeer owners’ rights, took responsibility had to find replacement grazing areas, and that the reindeer owners were positive about moving.”

Minister Aasland said it was the government’s position that the best solution for all parties would be to reach an amicable agreement.

About 98 percent of electricity in Norway comes from renewable resources, and almost 20 percent is exported to the European Union. The Fosen wind farm produces enough energy to power the nearby city of Trondheim, population 220,000.

“I cannot imagine that it is a good business idea for governments and companies to invade, violate human rights and then pay for it,” President Muotka said. “Never again Fosen is what I say, and hope and expect from the government.”

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