Vindelälven hydel project, Sweden

<div class="horipane"><div class="title active">Description</div><div class="content"><table class="table"><tbody><tr><td class="fld"></td><td class="columns"><div class="less">Vindelälven (The Vindel River) is a 453 km long river running through the province of Västerbotten in Sweden (2). It is one of the most biodiverse areas in the northern part of Sweden thanks to the variation in topography, bedrock and soil, as well as agricultural practices (2). </div><a class="seemore" href="#">See more...</a><div class="more" style="display:none"> In 1962, energy company Vattenfall (owned by the Swedish state) presented an extensive plan to exploit the Vindel river for hydro power. The exploitation would result in lakes becoming mere water reservoirs with drastically elevated water levels due to dams. Moreover, entire villages would end up under water, and large forest areas as well as reindeer herding areas belonging to indigenous Sami people would be destroyed. The habitat would drastically change, bringing with it a dramatic impact on the river ecosystem. (1, 2) Thanks to local resistance, the founding of the action group 'Vindelådalens aktionsgrupp', and media attention, the plans were abandoned. And on the first of April in 1970, Swedish prime minister Olof Palme announced that Vindelälven would remain an unexploited river. (1) In 1993 Vindelälven became a Swedish National River, meaning that it is protected against hydro power exploitation. Many areas around the river are nature conservation areas, Natura 2000 areas and Ramsar areas. The Vindel River conflict came to mark the end of the days of extensive hydro power exploitation in Sweden. <br/><br/><a class="seeless" href="#">(See less)</a></div></td></tr></tbody></table></div></div><div class="horipane"><div class="title active">Basic Data</div><div class="content"><table class="table"><tbody><tr><td class="fld">Name</td><td>Vindelälven hydel project, Sweden</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Country</td><td><a href="/country/sweden">Sweden</a></td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Province</td><td>Västerbotten (Province)</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Accuracy of Location</td><td>MEDIUM regional level</td></tr></tbody></table></div></div><div class="horipane"><div class="title active">Source of Conflict</div><div class="content"><table class="table"><tbody><tr><td class="fld">Type of Conflict (1st level)</td><td>Water Management</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Type of Conflict (2nd level)</td><td>Dams and water distribution conflicts</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Specific Commodities</td><td><a href='/commodity/water'>Water</a><br /></td></tr></tbody></table></div></div><div class="horipane"><div class="title active">Project Details and Actors</div><div class="content"><table class="table"><tbody><tr><td class="fld">Project Details</td><td class="columns"><div class="less">The combined kWh per year for the entire Vindelälven hydro power project was estimated to 2,8 billion (1). </div><a class="seemore" href="#">See more...</a><div class="more" style="display:none"> The reservoir by the lake Gautojaure would be 46 m above the average water level of the lake and would place a populated river valley under water. The capacity of the reservoir would be 1 300 million m3. The lakes Tjulträsken and Granselet would be dammed 17 m and 24 m respectively. The reservoir of Granselet would have the capacity of 450 million m3 while the Tjulträsken reservoir would have a capacity of 165 million m3. <br/><br/> The lake Storvindeln would become a 230 million m3 reservoir. (1)<br/><br/><a class="seeless" href="#">(See less)</a></div></td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Type of Population</td><td>Rural</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Potential Affected Population</td><td>850</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Company Names or State Enterprises</td><td><a href='/company/vattenfall'>Vattenfall</a> from <a href='/country-of-company/sweden'><small>Sweden</small></a></td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Relevant government actors</td><td>Vattenfall </td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Environmental justice organisations and other supporters</td><td>Vindelådalens aktionsgrupp, founded on the first of June in 1969. The action group was founded as a result of years of informal communication along the river between people who thought that the river has to be saved. There is no webpage, the group no longer exists., Today the EJO Älvräddarna (, founded in 1974, works for protecting Swedish rivers.</td></tr></tbody></table></div></div><div class="horipane"><div class="title active">The Conflict and the Mobilization</div><div class="content"><table class="table"><tbody><tr><td class="fld">Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)</td><td>UNKNOWN</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">When did the mobilization begin</td><td>PREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Groups Mobilizing</td><td>Indigenous groups or traditional communities<br /> Local ejos<br /> Neighbours/citizens/communities</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Forms of Mobilization</td><td>Boycotts of official procedures/non-participation in official processes<br /> Development of a network/collective action<br /> Media based activism/alternative media<br /> Street protest/marches<br /> Refusal of compensation: When representatives from Vattenfall organised a meeting with the people of Adolfström (one of the villages that would be under water if the project was realized) to offer them compensation, everybody walked out of the room as the representative started speaking, to show their refusal of compensation. The action group Vindelådalens aktionsgrupp conducted a survey, asking landowners that would be affected by the project if they were for or against the exploitation of the river. The results showed that the proponents only were a slightly higher number than the opponents - shedding light on the actual views of the public. (1)</td></tr></tbody></table></div></div><div class="horipane"><div class="title active">Impacts</div><div class="content"><table class="table"><tbody><tr><td class="fld">Environmental Impacts</td><td><strong>Potential: </strong>Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Floods (river, coastal, mudflow), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Soil erosion, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Large-scale disturbance of hydro and geological systems</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Socio-economic Impacts</td><td><strong>Potential: </strong>Displacement, Lack of work security, labour absenteeism, firings, unemployment, Loss of livelihood, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Land dispossession, Loss of landscape/sense of place</td></tr></tbody></table></div></div><div class="horipane"><div class="title active">Outcome</div><div class="content"><table class="table"><tbody><tr><td class="fld">Project Status</td><td>Stopped</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Pathways for conflict outcome / response</td><td>Project cancelled<br /> The project plan was abandoned thanks to local resistance and media attention. The viability of the project was also questioned which contributed to it not being conducted.</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Do you consider this as a success?</td><td>Yes</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Why? Explain briefly.</td><td>The plan to exploit the Vindel river was abandoned thanks to organised resistance and protests. The river is now protected as a National River in Sweden. There are many Natura 2000 areas on and around the river as well as Ramsar areas. The river has been suggested to become a Ramsar area in its entirety and is also a candidate for the world heritage list of UNESCO (1).<br/><br/>The Vindel River has been given an icon status among Swedish waters and the conflict marked the beginning of the end of the era of extensive hydro power exploitation in Sweden. (1)</td></tr></tbody></table></div></div><div class="horipane"><div class="title active">Sources and Materials</div><div class="content"><table class="table"><tbody><tr><td class="fld">Legislations</td><td><table><tr><td><p> Natura 2000, <br/><a class="refanch small" href="" target="_blank">[click to view]</a></p></td></tr><tr><td><p> Ramsar, <br/><a class="refanch small" href="" target="_blank">[click to view]</a></p></td></tr><tr><td><p> Vattenlagen (1983:291), Sweden’s water law: <br/><a class="refanch small" href="" target="_blank">[click to view]</a></p></td></tr><tr><td><p> The EU water framework directive, <br/><a class="refanch small" href="" target="_blank">[click to view]</a></p></td></tr></table></td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Links</td><td><table><tr><td><p> (1)Västerbotten Magazine, Issue 2, 2008, Special issue on the Vindel river, <br/><a class="refanch small" href="" target="_blank">[click to view]</a></p></td></tr><tr><td><p> (2)Speech by Christer Borg (from the EJO Älvräddarna – The River Rescuers) on the National River Day, 2013-08-17, Renforsen, Vindeln, Sweden, <br/><a class="refanch small" href="" target="_blank">[click to view]</a></p></td></tr></table></td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Other Comments</td><td>The start-date of the conflict as written here is the date where the present inhabitants of Adolfström, a village that would end up under water if the project was realised, simultaneously left a public meeting where Vattenfall would offer compensation. This day became symbolic for the struggle to save the Vindel River.</td></tr></tbody></table></div></div><div class="horipane"><div class="title active">Meta Information</div><div class="content"><table class="table"><tbody><tr><td class="fld">Contributor</td><td>Linda Dubec</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Last update</td><td>08/04/2014</td></tr></tbody></table></div></div>