The Swedish Environmental Protection Agency raises questions about impartiality in NVE's proceedings

On 8/3/2019, the Norwegian Environmental Protection Association NMF sent a complaint demanding suspension of the Sørmarkfjellet wind farm in Trøndelag to the Oil and Energy Ministry OED with a copy to the Climate and Environment Ministry KLF and to the Storting's Control and Constitution Committee. The background is, among other things, serious issues of competence in NVE's proceedings where TrønderEnergi AS is the developer. These are conditions that are also important in relation to the development of the Frøya wind farm.

In both wind farms, Sørmarkfjellet and Frøya, nationally and internationally important natural values are affected by a development, and in both places, TrønderEnergi/Stadtwerke München has announced the immediate start of construction work, despite the fact that there is a three-week appeal deadline in both cases. All construction activities will take place in untouched nature and damage will be permanent and not later possible to repair. Due to this undue pressure from TrønderEnergi, NMF has felt compelled to send an urgent complaint to OED with suspensive effect in both cases. This means that we demand that the permits to start construction be stopped within the appeal deadline. In Sørmarkfjellet, they have now received permission from NVE to change the route, which directly destroys the growth site of a red-listed species, yellow-eared sedge. During the start of construction, the construction work will start with logging machines in this area where the new route is disputed. This will not later be able to be repaired or reversed if the complaint is successful.

Tormod Eggan was NVE's contact person for case management Sørmarkfjellet.

TrønderEnergi appears to be extremely aggressive in that, at both plants, they are announcing the immediate start of construction work immediately after the decision from NVE, despite the fact that there is a three-week appeal deadline. People feel completely overwhelmed when they are now on the verge of losing their beloved natural areas. On Frøya, the people have said a unanimous no in a referendum with close to 80%. It cannot be said more clearly, and the ongoing demonstration shows that this is something that upsets the Frøyværingen. TrønderEnergi has responded by calling the police to clear the area. Now on Friday, the final approval came from NVE for the Sørmarkfjellet wind farm  Flatanger, just north of the Trondheimsfjorden. And as in Frøya, TrønderEnergi has also scared the population into the fields to protest against the development. Immediate start-up where even the route is disputed and the developer consistently refuses to wait for the current appeal deadline is unheard of. The people have had enough.

And here we come to TrønderEnergi where Project Director Wind Development Projects, Tormod Eggan was previously section manager for license matters at NVE (since 1997). On 14/11-2012, he moved to a new job as energy director at TrønderEnergi AS, where he was now responsible for the same licenses he himself had set as case manager and section manager for. He now holds the position of Project Director Wind Development Projects, Trønderenergi AS.

Tormod Eggan signed a document in the Sørmarkfjellet concession case.

In other words, Tormod Eggan has a long-term working relationship in the management of NVE's licensing department and there is therefore reasonable reason to ask questions about whether NVE in the licensing processing of cases where TrønderEnergi AS has been on the other side of the table as the owner of the measure has been the subject of an impartial and Untreated treatment. The Norwegian Environmental Protection Association has no confidence that this is the case and at the same time directs great criticism at NVE's treatment in this and other cases where TrønderEnergi AS is included as the owner of measures. With such a long running time and collegial relations in the management of the licensing department in NVE, it will easily be possible to form unfortunate ties that can later also border on camaraderie. Here, obviously, more warning lights should have gone on at the Director of Water Resources and Energy and others in central management. This is highly objectionable and unfortunate for trust in an important and central government institution, and can therefore also contribute to weakening the public's trust in the system and in an impartial and unbiased exercise of authority.

Sørmarkfjellet lies outside the 13 areas that NVE has selected in its National Framework for Wind Power, and the Norwegian Environment Agency has previously stated that the area has such great and important natural values that they opposed reassignment of conservation status and advised against wind power development. This part of Trøndelag is affected to a far too large extent by wind power developments and there are many and weighty reasons why this facility should never have received a licence. When one also sees how the legal relations between the licensing department in NVE and the former section manager, now in charge of the developments at Trønderenergi, have been handled, there is reason to be concerned about NVE's case management and exercise of authority.

This involves such serious questions about matters of competence and also procedural errors that the Norwegian Environmental Protection Association has now sent a complaint to the Ministry of Oil and Energy in the matter and demanded  suspensive effect and new investigation in a Directorate of Employment.

Download our complaint here.

The jurisdictional questions in this case also intervene in the case surrounding the Frøya wind power plant, as it is the same developer in both cases.

Also read: NMF's appeal with a request for suspensive effect in the Frøya wind power plant concession case

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