Loss of Pastures: Balsfjord Power Line Gets Final Approval

May 5, 2015 • Philip Burgess

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:

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.

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Planned Powerline Concerns Reindeer Herders (Barents Observer)

July 11, 2014 • Philip Burgess

Some reindeer herders are concerned that a planned Statnett powerline from Balsfjord to Hammerfest could interfere with herding in Finnmark.

Reindeer might avoid the planned powerline from as far away as five kilometers, reducing the amount of area herders can use, said Anders Eira, a reindeer herder and a senior adviser in the Sami group Protect Sápmi, to the BarentsObserver.

A 150-kilometer segment of the project is expected to be completed by 2018 but there is no definite timetable for the remaining 350 kilometers.

Eira said the powerline will go through 30 herding districts and could affect as many as 300 herders. He said he is particularly concerned about reindeer seeing ultraviolet light from the powerline.

According to a 2011 study in the Journal of Experimental Biology, in order to adapt to the extreme seasonal light changes of the Arctic region, a reindeer’s eyes do not block out all ultraviolet rays.

(see Statnet’s information page about this project here.

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