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


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].

Because traditional Sami reindeer herding is a form of protected cultural practice, the ambitious wind project is void according to the country’s Supreme court [2,3,4]. Further, “Their construction has been declared illegal, and it would be illegal to continue operating them,” a representative of Sami headers stated [2].

Since the 2016, when the project started to be planned and soon implemented, Sami people and activists have been protesting against it [4, 5]. The people indicated that the project violates national and international law, including the U.N. Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples; "Reindeer herding in the Southern Sami area is the bearer of the Southern Sami language and culture,” one of the activists argued [4]. Then, activists alo mentioned how limiting the size of the winter pastures will make reindeer herding unsustainable [4]. Hence impacted will be forced to give up their cultural heritage and even cultural survival [4].

There were two court cases, one after the other[11].  "A local court of appeal in June 2020 found that the Sámi had lost their grazing land as a result of the two wind parks, and ordered Fosen Vind to pay the herders what was considered a strikingly large sum of money: 90 million NOK (10 million USD) to buy fodder for the animals for the foreseeable future. Interestingly, both the Sámi and Fosen Vind appealed that sentence to the supreme court. For the former it was a matter of principle: they thought the concession was outright illegal as it violates their rights as native people, and found a financial settlement insufficient. Fosen Vind, on the other hand, considered the compensation excessive and disproportionate. The Norwegian government, worried that the case might set a precedent and deter potential foreign investors from applying for wind concessions elsewhere, sided with the joint venture company in its appeal.

The Supreme Court has now overturned the local ruling on the grounds that the concessions for the wind farms are invalid and should never have been granted" (Peroni, [11]). . The judges cited international law, saying that “in those States in which ethnic, religious or linguistic minorities exist,” the latter should not be denied the right “to enjoy their own culture.”[11]. 

Despite the efforts by Sami people,  the project continued without public consultations willing to hear their concerns, the people took their case all the way to the Supreme Court of Norway [7]. On 11 October 2021, the Supreme Court ruled "that the wind farm development will have a material negative effect on the reindeer owners’ scope for practising their culture in Fosen". [2,3,4,6,7]. In this decision further, "the Court of Appeal (had previously) determined a considerable amount of compensation for the winter feeding of penned reindeer and held that the right to cultural enjoyment was thus not encroached upon" [7].

On the other hand, Statkraft company  (backed in practice by the state of Norway, a major shareholder) argued that the added wind energy will be important for increasing the country’s electrification and for selling electricity to Europe. “Renewable production of energy will be increasingly important in the future when fossil fuels are gradually replaced”. According to the company, renewable energy has started to replace fossil fuels in the transportation sector of the country. The country plan, further,  is to export electricity to Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Russia and the Netherlands via cross-border links to other electrical networks [3]. 

Nevertheless, the Supreme Court  found that Sami rights have been infringed and that the decisions on granting operating licences and expropriation ordinances are therefore invalid [7]. Noway has ratified ILO Convention 169. The Court quoted the ICESCR, International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights also ratified by Norway.  The court clearly concluded that "the construction infringes the right to cultural practice, but peoples claim was not upheld in a decision by the Ministry of Petroleum and Energy in 2013. The matter was brought before the courts and Fosen Vind was still granted permission to commence constructions, and the two wind farms were completed in 2019 and 2020, respectively [7]". Now, they have to be torn down [2]. Ot appropriate remediation must be found. 

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)

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.

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

[2] NS Energy: Fosen Vind Project

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

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

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

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

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

[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.

[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

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



Fosen Vind farm project in Fosen, the Trøndelag county

Source: NS Energy Available at:

Fosen Vind farm project

Source: Arctic Deeply 2016

Decisions on operating licences for Fosen wind farms declared invalid because they infringe on Sami reindeer herders’ right to practise their culture

Source: Bård S. Solem in Motvind 2021. Available at

Reindeer around Storheia wind farm

Source: Euronews.