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Fosen Vind project for Storheia and Roan windfarms declared invalid by Supreme Court, Norway

One very important case for environmental justice and renewable energy. The Supreme Court rules that construction of two enormous windfarms infringes Sami's right to cultural reindeer practices, hence, invalid to operate these wind parks.


Fosen Vind is an onshore mega wind project with six wind farms in the Trøndelag County, Central Norway, and one of the to be the biggest  wind power project in Europe with a  capacity of 1GW [2, 5]. However, two of the windfarms Storheia (Åfjord) and Roan (Fosen), are particularly harming Sami reindeer herders , because the farms would be built on their traditional, culturally and environmentally important pastures [2,3]. In concrete, reindeer herders in Norway argued that the sight and sound of wind turbines would frighten off  reindeer grazing  and thus jeopardises age-old traditions. TheSami and  their land and cultures should not be expropriated for such a project [3].

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:Fosen Vind project for Storheia and Roan windfarms declared invalid by Supreme Court, Norway
State or province:Trøndelag
Location of conflict:Åfjord and Fosen
Accuracy of locationMEDIUM (Regional level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict. 1st level:Fossil Fuels and Climate Justice/Energy
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Large-scale wind energy plants
Specific commodities:Land
Project Details and Actors
Project details

The wind energy complex is being developed by Fosen Vind, a joint venture between StatKraft (52.1%), Nordic Wind Power (40%), and TrønderEnergi (7.9%) with an estimated investment of NOK 11bn ($1.3bn). [10]. Norwegian state-owned power company, Statkraft, is responsible for the execution of the Fosen Vind project. Construction on the project started in 2016 and full operational capacity of 1GW was expected to be achieved in 2020 [2]. Yet, the effort of local Sami people and activist, about 150 turbines may be torn down after licences to operate are declared non-valid by the Norwegian Supreme court [1].

Level of Investment for the conflictive project1,300,000,000
Type of populationRural
Start of the conflict:01/01/2016
Company names or state enterprises:TrønderEnergi from Norway
Nordic Wind Power from Norway
Statkraft from Norway
Relevant government actors:Supreme Court of Norway
International and Finance InstitutionsCredit Suisse (CSEIP)
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Leif Arne Jåma, a Sámi herder and one of the plaintiffs in the case, Jåma and his siida (the Sámi word for a herding community, usually a group of relatives) have for generations used Storheia mountain. [11].
The Sámi Council, a supranational NGO which protects Sámi interests across borders [11].
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityLOW (some local organising)
Reaction stagePREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups mobilizing:Indigenous groups or traditional communities
Forms of mobilization:Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Food insecurity (crop damage), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Noise pollution
Potential: Soil erosion
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Lack of work security, labour absenteeism, firings, unemployment, Loss of livelihood, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Violations of human rights, Land dispossession, Loss of landscape/sense of place
Project StatusStopped
Conflict outcome / response:Compensation
Court decision (victory for environmental justice)
Project cancelled
Proposal and development of alternatives:"While the Sámi would like to see the parks decommissioned and the turbines taken down, it’s still not entirely clear what the future will bring (after the Supreme Court decision of 2021). What is clear is that the case creates a precedent that similar concessions might also be found invalid if they encroach upon the Sami herders’ territory." [11].
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:Yes
Briefly explain:Although the two windfarms have not yet been torn down, and we do not know whether they will be torn down, the Supreme Court decision is one the most important ruling for Sami reindeer herding in modern times. The Supreme Court proved the reindeer herders rights to their lands and culture in Storheia and Fosen. It sets a precedent for Norway, and will be broiught into similar conflicts elsewhere [9].
Sources & Materials
Juridical relevant texts related to the conflict (laws, legislations, EIAs, etc)

[7] Supreme Court of Norway ruling 11 October 2021, HR-2021-1975-S (case no. 20-143891SIV-HRET, case no. 20-143892-SIV-HRET and case no. 20-143893SIV-HRET)
[click to view]

ICESCR, International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR)

References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

[9] Carola Lingaas. Wind Farms in Indigenous Areas: The Fosen (Norway) and the Lake Turkana Wind Project (Kenya) Cases. 15 Dec. 2021.
[click to view]

[1] The Guardian 2021: Norway court rules two windfarms harming Sami reindeer herders
[click to view]

[2] NS Energy: Fosen Vind Project
[click to view]

[3] Reuters 2021: 'Invalid' Norway wind farms to keep spinning for now, government says
[click to view]

[4] Arctic Deeply 2016: Saami Reindeer Herders Fight Wind Farm Project
[click to view]

[5] Energy Watch 2019: Norway's largest wind farm ready after Sami protests
[click to view]

[6] Motvind 2021: Fovsen-Njaarke victorious in the Supreme Court of Norway. The operating licences violate the right to cultural enjoyment and are invalid!
[click to view]

[8] EuroNews 2021: Norwegian wind farms violate rights of Sámi reindeer herders, says court
[click to view]

[10] Fosen Vind Power Project

Fosen Vind project is a 1,000MW onshore windpower project being developed in the Trøndelag County of Central Norway. October 2018.
[click to view]

[11] Earth Island Journal. Indigenous Sámi Win Landmark Case against Wind Power Company. Norwegian Supreme Court finds renewable energy projects violate reindeer herders’ rights. IRENE PERONI. November 4, 2021
[click to view]

Other comments:Credit Suisse perplexed: "In 2013, following a long and thorough process, Fosen Vind was granted a license by the Norwegian authorities. As part of the licensing process, all affected parties were consulted and the relationship to reindeer husbandry was particularly emphasized. Today, the Supreme Court in Norway ruled that the decision to grant a license and permit to two of Fosen Vind’s six wind farms, Storheia and Roan, was invalid. Fosen Vind and Energy Infrastructure Partners are analyzing the ruling, its implications on the investment, and awaiting the Ministry's processing of this verdict." Dr Anne Sexton. Energy Infrastructure Partners, Credit Suisse (CSEIP).
Meta information
Contributor:Ksenija Hanacek, ENVjust project, ICTA-UAB
Last update31/12/2021
Conflict ID:5781
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