Wind Power

Sami Reindeer Herders in Sweden Lose Out to Wind Power

December 7, 2010 • Philip Burgess

Wind turbine at Markbygden near Piteå. Photo: Tom Sullivan / SR International

One of the largest wind farms in the world is being built in northern Sweden but not everyone is pleased about it. The turbines cut across an area used by Sweden’s indigenous Sámi reindeer herders.

An hour’s drive inland from the town of Piteå, a dozen wind turbines tower over the surrounding forest. In the next few years 1,101 turbines will be erected here at a cost of $8.2 billion.

“This plateau has really good wind conditions – that’s the main reason it’s being built here,” said Jonas Lundmark from the local council.

“Also 95 percent of the land is owned by two forestry companies and there has been a steady decline in the population over the last 50 years. People living here are very keen to get more business into the area.”

By 2020, the wind farm is expected to provide about half of the national target for new wind energy – about 12 terawatt hours – that’s roughly the equivalent of two Swedish nuclear reactors, according to the company building the wind farm.

Wind power is a high priority for the Swedish government, and the local power to veto planning applications for wind farms has been removed to pave the way for more of them.

Stefan Lundmark, from the Swedish ministry of enterprise and energy says that the trend across the Nordic countries is to build in northern, more sparsely populated areas.

Sámi reindeer herders losing grazing land

“I think that the wind farms will be bigger and bigger and most of them will be in northern Sweden. In the south it’s more densely populated and there are more competing interests,” he said.

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More Wind Parks for Finnmark on Reindeer Pastures

September 16, 2010 • Philip Burgess

Finnmark Kraft has been granted a licence to establish a new wind park on the Berlevag peninsula, where there is already a wind park. As many as 100 wind turbines could be established supplying up to 300 MW. The company have been reluctant to estimate how many towers they would build in the past, as when numbers were estimated for the Kvalsund region, reindeer herders objected.

John Masvik, CEO of Finnmark Kraft, stated in Finnmarken newspaper,

There were strong views in reindeer herding, one might say. We have learned from this, and it is important for us to enter into dialogue with them as quickly as possible

This would occur after the current autumn migrations are completed, by November and December. The regional administration are extremely keen for the development to proceed.

Source – Finnmarken


Sami Council Criticize German Bank Funding of Wind Power on Reindeer Pastures

April 19, 2010 • Philip Burgess

The Saami Council, the NGO that represents the Sami people in all four countries in which they live have released a strongly worded press release criticising the German bank KfW IPEX for their funding of a giant wind power project in Sami reindeer herding areas, in contravention of the OECD Convention on Multilateral Enterprises.

In their complaint the Saami Council argue that the project is socially unsustainable and in breach of Saami rights.

The Swedish government has granted planning permission for the world’s largest land based wind power park to be built in the municipality of Piteå, Sweden, where the Saami community of Östra Kikkejaur have their winter reindeer herding pastures. The wind power park will consist of over 1000 wind turbines, an 800 km road, and extensive infrastructure, which means that reindeer herding in the area will be severely restricted.

”The Swedish state has admitted that the project will destroy at least 25% of the Saami community’s winter reindeer herding pastures, but the state has argued that renewable energy is more important than Saami rights. The financier of the project’s first phase, the German bank KfW IPEX-Bank, has defended their investment by referring to the Swedish state’s approval of the project. But the state planning permission, and thereby KfW IPEX-Bank’s financing,  are in breach of international law because Saami rights are not being respected”, says Mattias Åhrén, president for the Saami Council.

Download the Press Release 1004 Press release Markbygden

Download the Letter of Noticification to the Bank KfW IPEX 1004 Markbygden OECD

Text of the full press release below

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Wind Power a Disaster for Reindeer Husbandry

November 4, 2008 • Philip Burgess

The Norwegian company Fred Olsen Renewables has received rights for two years to examine the possibility of a windmill park in Stekenjokk in Västerbotten. Tomas Nejne, leader of the Vilhelmina Southern sameby (Sami village) is quoted as saying to the regional newspaper

We hoped to the end, that our interests would come first. For us reindeer herders, if the exploitation of Stekenjokk goes ahead, it will be a disaster and we will resist all attempts until we go bankrupt…Building wind turbines on Stekenjokk will kill our Sameby.

Wind power is also being proposed in a new area on the Kola Peninsula in North West Russia. According to Barents Observer, a Russian company is requesting permission for the construction of a 110 million EURO windmill park on the western side of the Pechenga Bay, just few kilometres from the border to Norway.


Reindeer Herders Fear Wind Power

October 9, 2008 • Philip Burgess

(Photo J.E. Kalvemo, NRK) The Bessaker wind power station in the Fosen region in the southernmost parts of reindeer husbandry in Norway has just opened and was visited by reindeer herders from Norway and Sweden (in Jamtland and Trondelag) who fear the impact that it will have (there are plans for large expansion) on reindeer and loss of pastures. There is also wind power development on the Swedish side of the border and reindeer herders are feeling squeezed according to reindeer herder Arvid Jaama on the Norwegian side. Reindeer Herder on the Swedish side Sture Åhren said to NRK Sami Radio,

If this wind power development continues on the Norwegian and Swedish side of the border, I would warn young people to stay away from reindeer herding.


Reindeer Herding Sami in Sweden Demand Wind Power Profits

October 1, 2008 • Philip Burgess

Reindeer Herder Patrik Lundgren from the Östra Kikkejaurs sameby, Photo Nils Widman

Although on paper, Sami reindeer herders have a statutory right to graze their reindeer over half the surface of Sweden, in practice, industrial activities such as mining, hydropower, logging, infrastructure and the new kid on the block, windpower development culminate in a progressive loss and fragmentation of pastures.

There are now 14 wind power parks planned on paper that are in areas of reindeer husbandry in Sweden. The largest wind park in the world (by German company Svevind) is planned in the Östra Kikkejaurs sameby, and it will cover a quarter of their winter pastures. The project plans to erect 1000 windmills to provide electricity for 2 million homes.

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South Sami Reindeer Herders fear for the Future

June 19, 2008 • Philip Burgess

(Visualisation of proposed wind power megaproject from Vernfosen)

Reindeer herders in the South Sami regions in Norway fear for their future, in a story from yesterdays NRK Sami Radio. Reindeer herder Terje Haugen is the head of the Fosen reindeer husbandry district (North of Trondheim). Much of his time over the last few years has been taken up with struggling against wind power development on his districts winter pastures, most particularly Fosenhalvøya. A seminar on South Sami rights is being held in Trøndelag this week and this issue has been high on the agenda. Hauge feels that legislation and current Sami rights do not protect their livelihood.

Large areas around each windmill will be developed, and roads are constructed between each windmill. When all this is combined, a lot of pastures disappear.

A campaign has been launched to protest against the megaproject, with an online petition.


We are Ready to Fight!

June 15, 2008 • Philip Burgess

The annual NBR NRL meeting is now over and Nils Henrik Sara from Guovdageaidnu has been reelected as leader. He has a lot of serious issues to preside over – two that were in the media this weekend were the enormous increase in wind power development plans and another being the gender balance on the board.

Arvid Jåma, a reindeer herder in the southern Sami area of Fosen, Trondelag, where NVE plan to develop an enormous wind park supplying 4038 MW, said

I see no option but to quit reindeer herding if Fosen is developed into a windmill park.

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World’s Elite Causing Reindeer Herders Psychological Problems

June 14, 2008 • Philip Burgess

The annual meeting of the Sami Reindeer Herders Association of Norway has started in the southern reindeer husbandry area of Trondelag. The theme of the opening day has been mental health issues for reindeer herders, an issue that is generally overlooked, accoridng to Nils Henrik Sara, NBR leader in a  report today in NRK Sami Radio. Nils Chris Danielsen , an elder herder spoke clearly and eloquently about the issues facing reindeer herders in the region, as he has seen it over the last six decades,

The whole world’s elite now come to the area. They come to areas (to ski) which we depend on in the summer. The reindeer need these areas for cooling in the summer, but the animals can no longer go there because of the skiing events. Interference is increasing. One can say that this also creates psychological problems for us,

 Danielson went on to talk about the other challenges that herders face in the area,

It is important to mobilise against the construction of windmills. Moreover, the expansion of cabin building creates problems for, among other things, migration. Those who have cabins will also be hunting in these areas. This creates problems for us with dogs who will run for anything at a time when the reindeer are to have peace. In addition, power lines are criss crossing the pastures.

If these issues were not addressed, reindeer could no longer thrive, said Danielson, and without reindeer, the Sami culture could not survive.


Impacts of Wind Power on Reindeer – Discussed in Scotland..

June 9, 2008 • Philip Burgess

Wind power is blowing its way across the windy parts of Europe – such as Sweden, Norway and Scotland. A major seminar in Scotland recently was attended by municipal leaders from Östersund, who were interested in learning how Scots had dealt with mega project windfarm development. At present there are only small scale wind farms in Sweden with fewer than seven turbines, however, a 100 turbine development is being proposed for a former military base. The impacts on reindeer pastures of such developments are known to be negative.


Updated – Wind Farms – Enormous Increase in Interest in Norway

May 16, 2008 • Philip Burgess

(Pic Barents Observer) With soaring energy prices, alternative energy from domestic sources are increasingly of interest to nation states. Espcially if they are touted as being ‘green’ (low CO2 emissions) and are promoted by state subsidy programs.

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“We are being pushed out” – Nils Henrik Sara on Pressures on Reindeer Husbandry

February 18, 2008 • Philip Burgess

New hydropower projects, windmill parks and the construction of new houses and cabin put increasing pressure on the reindeer herders in Norway. The industry might vanish by year 2050 should the developments continue, a representative of the reindeer herders says.It is not climate changes, nor the high number of reindeers or the increasing motorized traffic which pose the biggest threat against the Norwegian reindeer herders. It is rather the big number of cabins built in the pasture areas, as well as the planned hydropower and wind power projects, head of the Norwegian Association of Reindeer Herders, Nils Henrik Sara, says to newspaper Aftenposten.

-We are being pushed out […] Our future looks gloomy and we do not have the necessary dialogue with the authorities, Mr Sara says.

He is supported by researcher Christian Nellemann from the United Nation Environmental Programme (UNEP), who says that the reindeer herding industry might disappear by 2050 should the current development continue.

–The only thing, which can save the Sàmi reindeer culture is state intervention and protection of the necessary land areas, he adds.

Lawyer Geir Haugen says to Aftenposten that Norway is committed by the ILO Convention on protection of indigenous peoples’ culture and industry and that the current development in the country therefore can be seen as a violation of international law.

Only this year about 1000 new cabins are planned built in northern Norway, of which half have got special permissions. In addition come 25 planned hydro power projects, 10-12 wind power projects, as well as mining projects.

Original Story in Barents Observer and Aftenposten