SHARE
COPY LINK

FARMING

How Norway’s wind farms are harming reindeer herders

Norway's Supreme Court on Monday ruled that two wind parks built in the country's west were harming reindeer herders from the Sami people by encroaching on their pastures. Here's what you need to know.

The court ruled that the wind park was harming the sami people. Pictured is a Sami woman and a reindeer.
The court ruled that the wind park was harming the sami people. Pictured is a Sami woman and a reindeer. Photo by Nikola Johnny Mirkovic on Unsplash

Norway’s Supreme Court has ruled the indigenous Sami people were harmed by two wind farms in western Norway. It is not immediately clear what the consequences of the finding will be. But lawyers for the herders say the 151 turbines completed on the Fosen peninsula in 2020 — part of the biggest land-based wind park in Europe — could be torn down.

“Their construction has been declared illegal, and it would be illegal to continue operating them,” said Andreas Bronner, who represented a group of herders alleging harm from one of the two parks.

Ole Berthelsen, a spokesman for Norway’s ministry for oil and energy, said that “the Supreme Court verdict creates a need to clarify the situation”, adding it would “communicate later about what to do next”.

The judges declared the licences issued by the ministry to build and operate the turbines void, saying they violated the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

The UN text’s Article 27 states that ethnic minorities “shall not be denied the right, in community with the other members of their group, to enjoy their own culture, to profess and practise their own religion, or to use their own language.”

Traditional Sami reindeer herding is a form of protected cultural practice, the Norwegian court found.

READ ALSO: Ten beautiful Sámi words that you might not have heard before

“Of course, this is a surprise to us,” said Tom Kristian Larsen, head of Fosen Vind, which operates one of the wind farms.

“We based our action on definitive licences granted us by the authorities after a long and detailed process that heard from all parties,” he added.

“Special importance was 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 make a living from raising semi-domesticated reindeer for their meat and hides.

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.

FARMING

WTO rules US tariffs on Spanish olives breach rules

A US decision to slap steep import duties on Spanish olives over claims they benefited from subsidies constituted a violation of international trade rules, the World Trade Organisation ruled Friday.

WTO rules US tariffs on Spanish olives breach rules
Farmers had just begun harvesting olives in southern Spain when former US President Donald Trump soured the mood with the tariffs' announcement. Photo: Jorge Guerrero/AFP

Former US president Donald Trump’s administration slapped extra tariffs on Spain’s iconic agricultural export in 2018, considering their olives were subsidised and being dumped on the US market at prices below their real value.

The combined rates of the anti-subsidy and anti-dumping duties go as high as 44 percent.

The European Commission, which handles trade policy for the 27 EU states, said the move was unacceptable and turned to the WTO, where a panel of experts was appointed to examine the case.

In Friday’s ruling, the WTO panel agreed with the EU’s argument that the anti-subsidy duties were illegal.

But it did not support its stance that the US anti-dumping duties violated international trade rules.

The panel said it “recommended that the United States bring its measures into conformity with its obligations”.

EU trade commissioner Valdis Dombrovskis hailed the ruling, pointing out that the US duties “severely hit Spanish olive producers.”

Demonstrators take part in a 2019 protest in Madrid, called by the olive sector
Demonstrators take part in a 2019 protest in Madrid called by the olive sector to denounce low prices of olive oil and the 25 percent tariff that Spanish olives and olive oil faced in the United States. (Photo by PIERRE-PHILIPPE MARCOU / AFP)
 

“We now expect the US to take the appropriate steps to implement the WTO ruling, so that exports of ripe olives from Spain to the US can resume under normal conditions,” he said.

The European Commission charges that Spain’s exports of ripe olives to the United States, which previously raked in €67 million ($75.6 million) annually, have shrunk by nearly 60 percent since the duties were imposed.

The office of the US Trade Representative in Washington did not immediately comment on the ruling.

According to WTO rules, the parties have 60 days to file for an appeal.

If the United States does file an appeal though, it would basically amount to a veto of the ruling.

That is because the WTO Appellate Body — also known as the supreme court of world trade — stopped functioning in late 2019 after Washington blocked the appointment of new judges.

SHOW COMMENTS