– Deeply regret – NRK Trams and Finnmark

– Deeply regret – NRK Trams and Finnmark

The Fossen case evokes strong emotions among reindeer owners from eastern Finnmark.

Ten years ago, the county signed an agreement to allow wind turbines in Rakovita in eastern Finnmark. In the middle of their reindeer herding district.

She admits the county received compensation for giving up the grazing land, but says that’s not conclusive for saying yes.

– If we had known what we know today, we would never have signed. But we felt very pressured. Today we are very sorry, says the 43-year-old.

– For those of us who care so much that the next generation should drive like we did, having our signatures on those papers is an unpleasant feeling, says Kalaiman owner.

At a time when everyone was talking about the green transition, Woodsey says wind turbines were an environmentally friendly and viable alternative. Not least in eastern Finnmark, where there were large expanses and lots of wind.

– This is a Klondike environment. Everyone is going to put up wind farms everywhere, and there’s no question of saying no, Utsi says, and that’s the story everyone bought into.

Were you afraid of ending up as a scapegoat? Standing in the way of green migration?

– Yes we did.

The chairman of 7 Rakkonjarga, a reindeer herding district in eastern Finnmark, says he was pressured to say yes to wind turbines years ago. It’s too late to turn back now.

Photo: Samuel Frod Kronmo / NRK

He says they had never seen a wind turbine before and got the idea it wasn’t so bad. But the effects were quickly apparent, he says.

Woodsey says reindeer shy away from wind turbines, especially in the spring, when reindeer leave the area they originally entered.

– This means we need to be more vigilant and use more resources to pursue reindeer. “They put extra pressure on the reindeer, which we have to move in the spring so they can have their calf in peace,” he says.

Another thing is that reindeer move earlier to fall grazing, which means that reindeer owners have to spend a lot of time and effort driving them back.

– It has a domino effect all the way to our winter pastures, and it’s needed by humans and animals, he says.

Although it is too late for them, he believes the Fossen case will make it more difficult to build wind turbines in other parts of Finnmark.

In eastern Finnmark, 300-450 wind turbines are planned in the coming years.

– If everything had to be fulfilled, it wouldn’t be habitable for humans or reindeer, says Utsi.

1) Thawi Wind Power Station

2) Digermulen wind power station

3) Laksefjorden wind power station

4) Sandfjellet wind power station

Reindeer District 13 – Siskid Gorgas and Lakestudar.

99 people have been included in 19 page shares.

Number of reindeer allowed: 10,000

Reindeer grazing district 9 – corgaš.

86 people have been included in 10 page shares.

Number of reindeer allowed: 5,800

There are several moving and moving leases in the Reindrifta area (marked with green lines).

New 420 kV lines are needed to transmit electricity to the wind turbines (marked with red lines).

Additionally, an extensive road network will need to be constructed for the facilities.

Fear of trouble

There is a tense atmosphere in Finland after the Fosson case. Many fear this will stifle development in a district where almost every square meter is reindeer pasture.

The Labor mayor of Watzow, Wence Pedersen, has long been concerned about the government’s handling of the Fossen case.

He says he raised the issue with the government early on.

– My analysis is that if we don’t handle this case properly, it will become a symbolic case, which could destroy other projects, says Pedersen.

He believes Fossen’s case perfectly illustrates how important dialogue is in land matters.

– And we have to do things in the right order, Meyer says.

The fear is that it will become difficult to develop power and create new jobs in a district threatened by displacement.

Wenceslas Pedersen, Mayor of the Municipality of Wacho.

Wenche Pedersen, mayor of Vadsø municipality, criticizes the government’s handling of the Fosen case.

Photo: Chitzel Wick / NRK

Business developer at Berlevåg, Kjell Richardsen, thinks the same. The municipality dreams of building a hydrogen factory, but it needs more power.

Varanger Craft has built several wind turbines at Perlevac, but is looking to expand the wind farm. The Sami Parliament has said no to this.

Richardson believes that dialogue with reindeer husbandry will lead to progress.

– If we want to get anywhere, we have to talk together and deal with reindeer herding rights, he says.

Knowledge and conversation

In 2021, there was a change Sami Act Municipalities were given an advisory duty on Sami matters. This means that municipalities are obliged to engage in dialogue with reindeer owners on matters that affect them.

Against this background, Richardson took the initiative a year ago for a preliminary project called Sustainable Local Communities in the Arctic.

Included here are the municipalities in eastern Finnmark, Vangercraft and Submi Industrial Park. The project was supported by the Finnmark County Municipality.

The aim is to take seriously the consultative duty municipalities have in reindeer herding on land matters. Participating in the work is Solveig Ballo at the Sápmi industrial estate, who was the project manager. He says knowledge of each other’s points of view is key to good solutions.

– This is absolutely important, he says.

Solveig Ballo, manager at Sápmi food garden

Solveig Ballo, manager of the Sápmi vegetable garden, believes that everyone can achieve a possible Finnmark.

Photo: Mary Louise Zombie / Arvu

Ballo believes that reindeer husbandry is a myth that not all land occupations are.

– That was not my intention. My impression is that people are willing to compromise and settle. But at the same time, Ballo says, some areas are more valuable to them than others.

He hopes and believes that reindeer husbandry and other industries can coexist in the future. But wisdom is needed from both sides.

– It will take us a little, maybe we should raise the discussion from the comments section on Facebook, rather start talking together, he says.

– Boiled for a long time

Regional conflicts between reindeer herding and other industries are not new in Finland, says Marianne Sivertsson Naas, a Storting politician and head of the Environment and Energy Committee.

– The Fossen case only really highlighted the long-simmering conflicts and territorial issues in many municipalities in Finnmark, says Næss.

Marianne Sivertsen Naas and Terje Wikström at the cake party for Melkoya's Electrification

Marianne Sivertsson Naas and Terje Wikstrom at the cake party for Melkoya’s Electrification.

Photo: Alan Cloe / NRK

He points to Hammerfest, the municipality where he was mayor.

– We know that many projects here have been stopped for 10-15 years, without any progress, he says.

– Are you afraid that the polarization between reindeer husbandry and others will increase?

– This is something I’ve been worried about for a long time. We are getting an “us” and “them” and we cannot unite about further developments in the district, he says.

40 years after Operation Alta, the battle for power is back on the agenda.

Equinor wants to electrify the Melkøya gas plant outside Hammerfest as part of a green transition. They are first in line to get the power needed for the job.

This would lead to sky-high power prices, leaving little room for other business growth.

Many believe this is a crisis in a county threatened by evictions where jobs and potential local communities are vital to Finnmark’s existence.

The government has promised rapid power development to offset the power shortages and skyrocketing electricity prices facing people in the north.

But how easy is it in a district where every square meter is reindeer pasture.

– We have to do it. It is impossible not to develop power in Finland. If that is the case, he says, we will not be allowed to participate in the development that other countries and the rest of the world participate in.

– Didn’t buy a bit

Kate Woodsey doesn’t buy the idea that Finnmark will lose population and become a nature reserve if more power is not developed.

– I didn’t buy it. She says not even a little.

Kate Utsey

Kate Utsi is not afraid of a divided Finnmark. She thinks most people don’t welcome wind turbines.

Photo: Samuel Frod Kronmo / NRK

Utsi agrees that everyone needs electricity, but he believes that if Equinor is forced to find a solution for electrification, it will not affect other districts and there will be no shortage of electricity.

– It’s politically controlled, so you can do something, Utsi says.

Utsi did not share the fears of the divided people in Finnmark.

– No, I feel that Reindeer and Sammy have an incredible amount of support. “I think people are seeing that reindeer herding has a set of values ​​that we need more and less of,” Utsi says.

She also says:

– Increased consumption is probably the answer for many politicians, but I don’t think the average person on the street agrees that nature must be destroyed in order to continue consumption.

Finally, she would like to add that the mantra that Finland needs many new jobs is also not true.

– Unemployment has never been as low as it is now, and companies are crying out for workers. To me, it seems easy for politicians to attack reindeer husbandry in the absence of better solutions, says Utsi.

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Joshi Akinjide

Joshi Akinjide

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