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Norway

Norway

Stadland project bites the dust -- Madonna and wind power

Norway's oil and energy ministry has put one of Norway's most controversial wind projects out of its misery. State-owned power producer Statkraft's 70 MW development at Stadland is to be dropped after a chorus of protests from local residents, environmentalists and a number of government agencies, including the armed forces. The dire situation facing the industry in Norway was unwittingly underlined by the treatment of the saga by newspaper Aftenposten. A brief item on the decision appeared not in the news or business section but on the "culture" page.

A cultural event: A graphic illustration of the Norwegian lack of knowledge of wind power was provided last month by Aftenposten, supposedly the country's leading newspaper. The government's refusal to permit a large wind farm was incongruously reported not on the news pages, but on the "culture," or arts, page of the newspaper, apparently because the story (left) was headlined "Cultural interests win over windmills at Stadland." The unusual effect of this treatment of wind industry news was to juxtapose it with a painting of pop icon Madonna.

Norway's oil and energy ministry has put one of Norway's most controversial wind projects out of its misery. State-owned power producer Statkraft's NOK 500 million, 70 MW development at Stadland, on the scenic west coast, is to be dropped after a chorus of protests from local residents, environmentalists and a number of government departments and agencies, including the armed forces.

Although the Stadland project was given the all-clear several years ago by the licensing authority, the Water Resources and Energy Administration (NVE), energy minister Einar Steensnæs said early last month that he had now decided "the disadvantages of the proposed wind power installation must be considered greater than the benefits," and permission to construct 35 turbines on the three square kilometre site will be withdrawn.

Objectors had argued that the project would be a blot on the landscape, a threat to wildlife and tourism, and even a security risk as the turbines would interfere with military radar signals and telecommunications.

In its statement announcing the demise of the project, the ministry also said it was granting licences to two new hydropower developments, which between them would generate about 24 GWh a year. "Eco-friendly development of renewable energy is central to the government's energy policy," it added. Stadland is one of eight proposed wind projects that are now thought likely to be stopped on environmental grounds. Just two major wind projects are currently being developed in the country.

The dire situation facing the industry in Norway was unwittingly underlined by the treatment of the Stadland saga by newspaper Aftenposten. A brief item on the minister's decision appeared a week after the announcement, not in the news or business section but on the "culture" page, cheek-by-jowl with pieces on Madonna, the Spice Girls and Hugh Grant. The apparent reasoning behind this curious editorial judgement was that "cultural landscape considerations carried most weight" in the energy minister's decision.

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