Norway’s PM meets reindeer herders to discuss concerns over wind farms

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Norwegian prime minister Jonas Gahr Store met with indigenous Sami reindeer herders on Friday after more than a week of protests against wind farms that activists say endanger their way of life.

At the same time, the activists, many teenagers, said they would pause their blockade of the entrances of several government ministries in Oslo, Norway’s capital, because the government had made a public apology.

“We need a pause. We are stopping now,” activist Ella Marie Haetta Isaksen said. “We are ready to restart the actions if we deem it necessary.”

The activists will gather one last time outside the royal palace in Oslo on Friday but stressed that they will not block access as the Norwegian government attends the regular briefing of the Norwegian monarch, which is a formality.

“The reindeer owners are not allowed to exercise their culture in line with the traditions,” he said, adding the aim of the morning meeting “was to repeat the apology we gave yesterday, and at the same time look ahead”.

At the centre of the dispute are 151 turbines at Europe’s largest onshore wind farm in the Fosen district, 280 miles north of Oslo.

The activists say that a transition to green energy should not come at the expense of the rights of Indigenous people.

On Thursday, Norway’s oil and energy minister apologised on behalf of the government for failing to act despite a October 2021 ruling by Norway’s supreme court that said that the construction of wind turbines had violated the rights of the Sami, who have used the land for reindeer for centuries. The windmills are still operating.

After the court ruling, the Norwegian ministry of petroleum and energy had asked the owners of the two wind farms to establish whether measures could be taken to ensure reindeer herding could continue near the turbines.

But the Sami have refused to take part in such a process.

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