The Norwegian Supreme Court ruled that the indigenous Sami people were injured by two wind farms in western Norway. It is not immediately clear what the consequences of the discovery will be. But lawyers for the breeders say the 151 wind turbines completed on the Fosen Peninsula in 2020 – which are part of Europe’s largest onshore wind farm – could be demolished.
“Their construction was declared illegal and it would be illegal to continue to operate them,” said Andreas Bronner, who represented a group of ranchers alleging damage from one of the two parks.
Ole Berthelsen, spokesman for the Norwegian Ministry of Oil and Energy, said that “the Supreme Court’s verdict creates a need to clarify the situation”, adding that he “would communicate later on what is needed then do “.
The judges declared the licenses issued by the ministry to build and operate the turbines null and void, claiming they violated the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
Article 27 of the UN text states that ethnic minorities “must not be denied the right, in community with other members of their group, to enjoy their own culture, to profess and to practice their own religion. or use their own language ”.
Traditional Sami reindeer herding is a form of protected cultural practice, the Norwegian court ruled.
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“Of course, it’s a surprise for us,” said Tom Kristian Larsen, director of Fosen Vind, which operates one of the wind farms.
“We have based our action on the final licenses granted to us by the authorities after a long and detailed process which has heard from all parties,” he added.
“Particular importance has been given to reindeer herding,” he said.
The company said it would now wait for the ministry’s decision on next steps.
The Sami people number up to 100,000 people spread across Sweden, Finland, Norway and Russia. Some of them live off herding semi-domestic reindeer for their meat and skin.