- In the dispute over building the country’s largest wind farm, Norway’s highest court found the original Sami right – along the line.
- The loser in the legal dispute is the state of Norway – and indirectly also two companies from Switzerland.
- Because energy company BKW and main bank Credit Suisse are involved in the project.
For the affected Sami reindeer herders on the Fussen peninsula north of Trondheim, the verdict came a few years late. Because for nearly twenty years, the indigenous Sami have been fighting against the billion dollar project in their homeland.
After a few years with financially strong Swiss investors, funds to build more than 250 wind turbines were raised and all complaints were dismissed by the statutory bodies, and Norway’s largest wind turbine has been in operation for two years.
The Supreme Court intervenes
But now the Supreme Court has come to the opposite unanimous conclusion: The wind farm should not have been built. The construction of the factory raised questions about the livelihoods of the Sami and violated relevant articles of the United Nations Convention on the Protection of Indigenous Peoples. For this reason, the wind farm on the Füssen peninsula was built illegally, according to the Supreme Court opinion.
With this, Norway’s highest legal authority provides an example – also internationally: the construction of such a huge power plant has never been declared illegal in the past due to human rights violations. So far, successful operations have almost always been about environmental damage.
In addition, the ruling came on a special day: Norway’s parliament, newly elected a month ago, met for the first time today. In the coming days, this council will vote on the former conservative government of Prime Minister Erna Solberg, which has been particularly strong in the past eight years in promoting raw materials and building energy systems in areas of Sami settlements.
This must end now: politically, legally and practically. Sami’s representatives are already calling for the facility in Füssen to be demolished. The state-owned Norwegian Operating Company would like to study the ruling carefully before commenting on it.
BWK and Credit Suisse were affected
Two companies from Switzerland also participated in the project. In Switzerland, a CS spokesperson said on demand that Credit Suisse is no longer directly involved in the Norwegian wind farm. The stake was assigned to the Investment Manager Energy Infrastructure Partners. There it was stated in a statement that the verdict will now be analyzed and the reaction of the responsible Norwegian ministry will be awaited.
According to a statement from SRF, BKW, the second major investor from Switzerland, took note of the ruling and is surprised. According to BKW, the construction permit for the wind farm was granted after a long and extensive process.
A month ago, the Bern-based energy company announced that it would in the future undertake “the most solid human due diligence” for such investments. This was done as part of an arbitration proceeding with the Society of Threatened Peoples, which supported the affected Sami in the process.
“Typical entrepreneur. Lifelong beer expert. Hipster-friendly internet buff. Analyst. Social media enthusiast.”