Norway’s oil and energy minister, Terje Aasland, has apologized to the reindeer herders on behalf of the government. The local high court ruled in 2021 that the turbines placed on two wind farms in Fosen, central Norway, violated the rights of the Sami people under international conventions. Protests supported by Greta Thunberg have begun in Oslo. The Sámi people are demanding the removal of 151 wind turbines.
– I apologized on behalf of the government to the reindeer herders for the violation of the wind farm construction permits human rights – said the Norwegian Minister of Petroleum and Energy Terje Aaslanda at a press conference.
Protests in government buildings in Oslo
Reuters reported that Norway’s highest court ruled in 2021 that the turbines erected at two wind farms in Fosen in central Norway violated Sámi rights under international conventions, but they remain in use almost 17 months later.
The court did not say what should happen next with the 151 turbines that could power 100,000 homes. nor what will happen to the tens of kilometers of roads built to facilitate construction.
The Sámi launched protests supported by Swedish environmental activist Greta Thunberg and last week blocked the entrance to the Ministry of Petroleum and other government buildings in Oslo. They argue that the transition to green energy should not come at the expense of the rights of indigenous peoples.
The future of reindeer herders
Aasland said the government had not ruled out any solutions, but added that he still believed it was possible to keep both energy production and reindeer farming at Fosen.
His announcement followed a meeting with the head of the Norwegian Sami consultative parliament, Silje Karine Muotka, who demanded an apology.
“My goal remains to end human rights violations and repair the damage,” Muotka told reporters.
She declined to say whether she thought it would require the removal of all turbines and roads.
The owners of the Roan Vind and Fosen Vind farms, including the Norwegian energy companies Statkraft and TroenderEnergi, as well as the Swiss companies Energy Infrastructure Partners and BKW, expressed hope that a compromise could be found.
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