Loss of Pastures: Balsfjord Power Line Gets Final Approval

May 5, 2015 • Philip BurgessBlog, Challenges, Reindeer, Reindeer Herders

Last week the Balsfjord to Hammerfest power line received final approval from the Norwegian government (Ministry of Petroleum and Energy). Construction can now begin. This is a major investment by Statnett (3-4 billion NOK) in a 420 Kv power line that will be 360 km long, 40 metres wide and cross 8 municipalities (Statnett).

Balsfjord power line

The route of the Balsfjord power line. Source: statnett.no

It will cross 30 reindeer herding districts in northern Norway and have dramatic impacts on some districts, according to herders. Herders have been vociferous in their opposition to the project and have asked for it either shelved or that significant route alterations be undertaken, or that areas critically effected could have submarine/underground construction.

Acting Head of NRL, Per John Anti believes the consequences for reindeer herding in the area will be negative.

It will particularly impact on calving country. Research shows that the reindeer avoids areas from one to four kilometers from the disturbance, particularly females with calves. This causes pressure in other areas of these regions.

The project was first proposed in 2007 and the Norwegian state has insisted that it is essential to the future power security of northern Norway and the future industrial activity that it envisages for the region. The Sami Parliament in Norway also approved the power line, President Aili Keskitalo said that from their meetings with the Minister responsible it was clear that that this power line was of a high strategic importance to the State and it was determined to push it through. She acknowledged that there was  need improvements in the power security framework (several blackouts were experienced in Finnmark this winter). She stressed that further bit by bit encroachments onto herders pastures had to stop,

If we accept that this should be given top priority, we must look at other land encroachment in the same areas. Then we have to prioritize the building of cabins, wind farms and mineral extraction. What matters for husbandry part is the total sum of the encroachments 



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