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Norway: Sámi reindeer herders file lawsuit against windfarm

"Sámi reindeer herders file lawsuit against Norway windfarm", 18 January 2021

Indigenous reindeer herders are bringing a legal action against a proposed wind power project that would be one of the largest in Norway. The Sámi herders from Nordland county are accusing the Øyfjellet windfarm constructors of breaking licensing agreements which stipulated that construction would not interfere with reindeer migration paths...

“The Sámi people are not the ones who have contributed the most to climate change, but we seem to be the ones who have to carry its greatest burden,” said Gunn-Britt Retter, the head of the Arctic and environmental unit at the Sámi Council, a non-governmental organisation that represents Sámi people. “That’s not climate justice, that’s climate injustice.”

The number of wind turbines in Norway has quadrupled in the past 10 years. Many of the onshore projects were built in the northern parts of the country that are home to the largest numbers of Sámi people...

Pål Gude Gudesen, the lawyer representing the herding district, has said the proposed Øyfjellet windfarm violates the reindeer herding act, by disturbing migration routes...

A spokesperson for Eolus, the energy company behind the planned windfarm, said: “It is our firm belief that coexistence between the reindeer district and the windfarm is possible … We have signed over 100 voluntary agreements with different stakeholders in connection with the windfarm and would like to find an agreement with the reindeer district as well...

Retter grew up in the Sámi community of Unjárga-Nesseby in Norway’s far north. She says Norway’s move towards renewable energy has not taken Sámi interests into account, pointing out that the Arctic region – where most Sámi live – has been disproportionately affected by global heating and is now seen as a source of renewable energy, with windfarms, hydropower plants, and mineral mines built in the region. “It’s a paradox, really,” she said, “you are squeezed between the impact of climate change and the impact of green energy, which is the answer to climate change.” ...