Reindeer farming rights secured
After a long dispute, there is finally an agreement between Sør-Fosen Sijte and Fosen Vind. Financial compensation, right of veto, and an additional area for grazing are some of the elements in the agreement.
The agreement applies to the various parties at Sør-Fosen. In Nord-Fosen, no agreement has been reached in the mediation between Nord-Fosen Siida and Roan Vind.
In April 2023, the Ministry of Petroleum and Energy initiated a mediation process between the parties to resolve the matter. The mediations have been led by national mediator Mats Ruland, together with district court judge Hanne Sofie Bjelland and reindeer husbandry operator Tom Kristian Lifjell. It is this process that has now led to an agreement between the parties at Sør-Fosen.
“The Fosen case has been demanding for all parties, and there is no doubt that the case has been most burdensome for the families who run reindeer herding on Fosen,” said Oil and Energy Minister Terje Aasland (Labor Party).
The Sámi families have lived with the conflict issue for many years.
“I am therefore pleased that, through the mediation process, the parties and the state have reached a mutually agreed, good and forward-looking solution. My hope is that with this, new generations can also see the possibility of continuing with reindeer herding at Fosen,” said Aasland.
Reindeer farming secured for generations
The agreement means that Fosen Vind can continue to use the area on Storheia for wind power production for the remainder of the concession period of 25 years, until 2045.
It does not come for free, because Fosen Vind DA undertakes, among other things, to make significant financial support available for reindeer husbandry on a perpetual basis.
The compensation will be in the amount of NOK 7 million each year, Fosen Vind told Adresseavisen. It is the southern group in the Fosen reindeer herding district that receives the money. Over the concession period of 25 years, this corresponds to NOK 175 million.
Leif Arne Jåma, who is the head of the Sør-Fosen site, says it is good to have an end to a years-long unpredictable situation.
“The agreement provides predictability and ensures reindeer herding on Sør-Fosen for generations. Through the agreement, we are granted an additional area and veto rights on further wind power after the end of the concession period. We look forward to positive challenges and will work to ensure that we see good Sámi reindeer husbandry,” he said.
According to Jåma, it up to the politicians to make sure that this does not happen again.
“We have greatly appreciated the support we have received through the actions, and the commitment from the Norwegian people, and especially from the Sámi community,” he said.
Right of veto
It is not certain that wind power production will continue at Sør-Fosen after the end of the concession period. The veto court Jåma mentions gives Sør-Fosen site the opportunity to stop the extension or renewal of the concession. Thus, one is dependent on an agreement between both parties for wind power production to continue.
The agreement will help to ensure ongoing reindeer husbandry, mitigate operational disadvantages, as well as provide a basis to further cultural traditions at the Sør-Fosen site in a generational perspective, according to the Ministry of Petroleum and Energy.
One of the measures to ensure reindeer husbandry is the designation of an additional area for winter grazing.
Arrangements are being made for the Sør-Fosen site to be able to use an additional area for winter grazing outside the Fosen reindeer herding district. An area in question must be suitable for winter grazing and must be within an acceptable transport distance from Sør-Fosen.
At the request of the parties, the state has assumed responsibility for carrying out a process with the aim of acquiring such an additional area, the agreement states.
The goal is for this area to be ready by the winter of 2026-2027.
No agreement has yet been reached in the mediations at Nord-Fosen between Nord-Fosen Siida and Roan Vind.
“The government still believes that the best thing for the parties will be to get an amicable agreement in place here as well. If it is not possible to reach an agreement, the state must go ahead with the work of a conversion decision in the case,” stated a press release.
The battle for the wind turbines at Fosen has been characterized by strong emotions. In October 2021, the Norwegian Supreme Court ruled that the concessions granted in connection with the construction of two wind power plants on Fosen, Roan, and Storheia, contravene the minority protection of the reindeer herding Sámi on Fosen. The concessions are therefore invalid.
The Supreme court concluded that, in the long term, the development will lead to lost grazing opportunities to such an extent that it will not be possible to fully provide compensation by using alternative grazing areas.
After 500 days without a solution, activists from the Norwegian Sámi National Confederation and Nature and Youth felt compelled to take action. They carried out several protests. Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg was also there to demonstrate in Oslo.
The protests led to top political parties. After four days of demonstrations, Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre (Labor Party) and Petroleum and Energy Minister Terje Aasland (Labor Party) regretted the human rights violations at Fosen and promised progress in the process.
Sámi parliament president happy about the agreement
Sámi Parliament President Silje Karine Muotka (Norwegian Sámi Association) says she is happy that the Fosen agreement will now involve securing and will develop the Sør-Fosen area.
“I am happy that additional land will be made available to Sør-Fosen Sijte for winter grazing, which will enable them to continue to secure and develop their livelihood and cultural practice,” says Muotka.
She says an agreement on moving winter pasture can only happen because Sør-Fosen Sijte approves it on an independent basis.
“In other words, the Norwegian authorities can neither impose nor pressure them into such a move,” says Muotka.
Not resolved until everyone has agreed
Activist Ella Marie Hætta Isaksen is also happy about the agreement between Sør-Fosen Sijte and Fosen Vind. She nevertheless stressed that they are still not quite there.
“We have had good cooperation with Sør-Fosen Sijte. We have been prepared for them to come to an agreement, and it is good to hear that they have done so,” said Hætta Isaksen to NTB.
She underlined that no agreement has yet been reached in the mediations on Nord-Fosen between Nord-Fosen Siida and Roan Vind.
“In Nord-Fosen, no solution has yet been reached. It is impossible for the Fosen case to be resolved before everyone sees a solution,” said Hætta Isaksen, who says it is not unlikely that there may be more demonstrations.
She also emphasized that the government is now faced with a great deal of follow-up work.
“There is a broad consensus that they must clean up after the consequences of this case,” she said.
Also see Sámi youth argue Fosen case at UN forum in the June 2023 issue of The Norwegian American.
This article originally appeared in the February 2024 issue of The Norwegian American.