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Press Release - Sámi Activists Demand Removal of Wind Turbines in Fosen

Cover photo by the Saami Council

October 14, 2023

In a powerful display of determination and solidarity, hundreds of Sámi activists, alongside environmental advocates, have converged in Oslo to demand the immediate removal of wind turbines from the Fosen region. The protests, which are part of continued advocacy and protest by the Sámi over the last two years, commenced on October 11, 2023, have garnered national and international attention.

The Fosen case revolves around a critical issue that has long concerned the Sámi people. The Fosen wind farm has damaged the ancestral lands and pastures of the Sámi reindeer herders, violating their rights – rights which are secured in both national and international law.

The heart of the matter is the 151 wind turbines and the associated 131 km of connecting roads and power lines which have destroyed winter pastures and migration routes crucial for maintaining sustainable reindeer herding in the area. The wind farm is situated in the Fosen district, approximately 450 kilometers north of Oslo. Operated by Fosen Vind, a joint venture comprising Statkraft, TrønderEnergi, and Nordic Wind Power DA, these projects have faced extensive criticism for their impact on Sámi heritage and livelihoods.

“When we play by the state’s rules and win in the Supreme Court, somehow, we did not win anyway.”

Áslat Holmberg, President of the Saami Council

In a landmark decision in October 2021, the Norwegian Supreme Court ruled against the construction of two key projects within the Fosen Vind initiative, namely Storheia and Roan citing Article 27 of the ICCPR, which is incorporated into the Act Relating to the Strengthening of the Status of Human Rights in Norwegian law (the Human Rights Act) of 21 May 1999. The court declared the expropriation and operating permits for these turbines as invalid, citing a lack of adequate assessment of their impact on Sámi culture and subsistence. However, the wind park has already been constructed.

The ruling did not prescribe a course of action for the existing infrastructure. Therefore, the turbines have continued to operate, despite the court's decision. It is now two years beyond the ruling without action, and the project continues to disrupt Sámi herding, and access to their lands. This continued violation, without action despite a ruling from Norway’s highest court, has prompted the current wave of protests, with demonstrators demanding immediate government action to remove the turbines and to address the irreparable damage the construction of the park has had on the Sámi lands.

“Without respect for the Supreme Court decision, we risk losing our trust in the rule of law.”

Áslat Holmberg, President of the Saami Council

The ruling in the Fosen case isn't just a concern for Norway and the European Union. It's a lesson for the world as we grapple with the urgent need to transition to clean energy while respecting the rights of Indigenous peoples. The Sámi protests have drawn attention to these broader issues of climate justice and Indigenous rights. Despite contributing less to climate change, Indigenous Peoples are disproportionately affected not only by the climate crisis, but also in efforts to mitigate it and to transition to green energy. Sámi are not against green and renewable energy, however it is clear that the transition to green energy cannot occur at the expense of Indigenous Peoples' rights and cultural heritage. The Sámi youth in Oslo have highlighted once again the impacts of green colonialism and demand a more inclusive and respectful approach to renewable energy development.

This protest, symbolizing the intersection of environmental and Indigenous rights activism, continues in opposition to the violation of Sámi rights.

IWGIA stands in solidarity and supports the Sámi and their fight for their rights and demands the respect and full compliance with the ruling, implementation of measures to address this violation of their human rights, and full respect of Sámi rights going forward.

[End of Press Release]

For media inquiries and further information, please contact:

Dwayne Mamo, Documentation and Communications Manager

International Work Group for Indigenous Affairs

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

Learn more about the situation and protests at Sámiráđđi (saamicouncil.net)

Tags: Land rights, Press releases

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