Not so fast, wind(mill)s of change

Protests and birds threaten to halt wind power installations in coastal Norway

wind power

Photo: Pxhere
Protesters from Norwegian hiking groups, and others, are trying to stop construction of windmills.

Pieter Wijnen
Norway Today

Energy company TrønderEnergi planned to begin building its wind power development on Frøya on May 13. However, they were met by protesters attempting to stop construction of the wind turbines.

Project Managers Ragnhild Remmen Bull and Thomas Helles from TrønderEnergi were present to put up speed limit signs and fences at the construction area, writes Adresseavisen.

About 10 protesters from the action group “No to wind power on Frøya” turned up in an attempt to stop the construction work. “We don’t want fences in the area. We do not need them, and we do not intend to release them so easily. Our lawyers are still working on the case,” the leader of the group, Eskil Sandvik, told the newspaper.

Several protests

A number of protesters also gathered outside Scandic Lerkendal in Trondheim, in connection with the general assembly of TrønderEnergi, writes NRK. Representatives from the Norwegian Tourist Association (DNT) and the Norwegian Society for the Conservation of Nature (NSCN) were among those who protested outside the hotel.

The Norwegian Water Resources and Energy Directorate (NVE) issued a plan for wind power on land for consultation at the end of March. The plan defines 13 areas as suitable for wind power, affecting a total of 98 municipalities. Protesters oppose plans for construction of larger wind power plants on Frøya, Sørmarkfjellet, and Stokkfjellet.

Frøya municipality originally granted TrønderEnergi dispensation for the wind power development in March 2016. The disposition was valid for three years and required start-up by April 7 this year. On April 1, protesters, however, managed to halt work on the construction.

In April, the municipal council of Frøya approved a halt in the planned development on the island municipality. The municipal council subsequently decided that TrønderEnergi’s dispensation for the construction of 14 wind turbines was no longer valid. On May 10, the county governor overrode the decision that TrønderEnergi had to stop the construction. The company can thus legally go ahead.

DNT arranged support marches for 22 places nationwide on May 12 and more than 5,000 protestors met up at them. Their goal is to prevent wind power development in valuable natural areas around Norway.

Eagle-owls in Sørmarkfjellet

Meanwhile, sightings of Eurasian eagle-owls have led the NSCN to demand a halt to the planned wind power development on the Sørmarkfjellet in Flatanger and Osen municipalities in Trøndelag.

In the license requirements for the wind power plant, the Ministry of Petroleum and Energy points out that no eagle-owls have been found in the area, but this is now refuted, the NSCN underlines.

“The eagle-owl is a severely threatened species. It has lost large habitats due to interventions and developments. We consider it likely that all wind power developments at Fosen have removed eagle-owl habitats. If Sørmarkfjellet can be left as an enclave, that will be important because of lost habitats elsewhere on Fosen and along the coast of Trøndelag. If one also discovers breeding in the area, there will be strong documentation of the area’s importance for the eagle-owl,” head of the NSCN, Silje Ask Lundberg, said.

That means eagle-owls are in the area where TronerEnergi is foresting and blasting, according to Lundberg. Nord University’s report from the area shows that all the listening boxes in the area have registered mating calls of the species.

The NSCN has now sent a letter to the NVE demanding that the work stop immediately pending further investigations commissioned by the developer.

The Eurasian eagle-owl (Bubo bubo) is a species of owl that resides in much of Eurasia. It is one of the largest species of owl, and females can grow to a total length of 30 inches, with a wingspan of over 6 feet.

This article was originally published on Norway Today.

This article originally appeared in the May 31, 2019, issue of The Norwegian American.

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The Norwegian American is North America's oldest and only Norwegian newspaper, published since May 17, 1889.