The Norwegian Fishermen's Association has said NO to the opening of more areas for the development of offshore and coastal wind turbines

The Norwegian Fishermen’s Association has said NO to the opening of more areas for the development of offshore and coastal wind turbines

The Norwegian Fishermen’s Association now says a clear NO to the opening of more areas for the development of offshore and coastal wind turbines. We believe that the government violates the Storting’s assumptions about offshore wind.

The government recently launched a new large-scale investment in the development of offshore wind power in Norwegian waters. Considerations for the fishing industry and the marine environment were not mentioned in a single word. Norwegian and foreign fishermen already have very varying experiences with dialogue and cooperation with the wind power industry.

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“For several years, the Norwegian Fishermen’s Association and the member teams have had an extensive dialogue with wind power companies, wind power organisations and with the ministries. We have experienced that the fishermen’s knowledge and input have largely been downplayed,” says senior adviser Jan Henrik Sandberg.

Considerations for fisheries and the marine environment are also rarely included in socio-economic analyses and in key management documents, such as Meld. St. 36 (2020–2021) “Energy for work – long-term value creation from Norwegian energy resources”.

In Equinor’s Hywind Tampen project, for example, none of the fishermen’s input was seriously assessed or taken into account. From the summer of 2022, the important fishing field on Tampen will be largely destroyed for fishing. This is despite the fact that the state will actually finance more than 90% of the plant. Unfortunately, it also turns out that the Hywind Tampen project, overall, will not contribute significantly to reduced greenhouse gas emissions either.

The Norwegian Fishermen’s Association has initially accepted the development of wind turbines for a three-digit billion amount on Utsira North and Southern North Sea II.

“Our prerequisite has been that fishing and spawning areas, also within these open areas, are taken care of in a responsible manner. So far, the processes that will take care of this have been unsatisfactory,” says leader Kåre Heggebø.

He says the fishermen are experiencing great pressure to use sea and coastal areas for other purposes, not least for wind power.

“Both bottom-fixed plants and floating turbines are sought to be located on relatively shallow water. Such reasons often coincide with our very best fish banks, spawning and rearing areas.

“Not least, there is now a great deal of pressure to expand wind turbines at Trænabanken outside Helgeland, also called Træna Vest or Ytre Helgeland. This is one of the most conflict-ridden areas in Norway. Helgeland currently also has a significant power surplus, and there will in fact be no need to develop expensive offshore wind power in this area for a very long time.

“What happens next in that case will be an indicator of whether the government takes fisheries and the marine environment seriously,” Kåre Heggebø points out.

The underlying reason why important fishing areas are now under such strong pressure is expectations that the state will provide investors with good financial framework conditions for the development of offshore wind turbines. The most important prerequisite for this to be profitable is the so-called hybrid network (hybrid cables). According to NVE, the hybrid network will open up for extensive power exchange in the North Sea region, and thus provide developers with large so-called «flax neck revenues», at the same time as domestic power prices in Norway will increase. In addition, the hybrid network could be an obstacle to fishing in large areas, and thus also affect the harvesting of food in Norwegian waters.

If the development of wind turbines in Norwegian waters is not based on sufficiently good knowledge, and the authorities do not facilitate good coexistence, the Norwegian Fishermen’s Association believes that the development could be detrimental to both the marine environment, the fishing industry and Norway as a nation.

We note, among other things, that:

– Necessary knowledge about the effects of wind turbines on fisheries, spawning areas and the marine environment has still not been established.

– Necessary mapping work of potential areas for wind turbines has to a small extent started up.

Recent research and experience data show that the areas required to produce a certain amount of energy from offshore wind appear to be far larger than assumed. At the same time, practical experience indicates that the service life of offshore wind turbines will be significantly shorter than for onshore wind turbines. Despite this, no clear framework has yet been set for financing and carrying out the clean-up of the wind turbines, after the end of its service life.

– It is still not documented that the development of wind turbines in Norwegian waters could be socio-economically profitable, in a total perspective.

The Norwegian Fishermen’s Association believes that these issues must be clarified before it is relevant to consider opening up new areas for offshore wind power, and before binding decisions are made on hybrid cables that are not necessarily in the public interest.

The Norwegian Fishermen’s Association also expects the government from now on to base the Storting’s assumption that “it is crucial that an investment in marine energy can be reconciled with good coexistence with fishing interests”. In addition, the Norwegian Fishermen’s Association believes that it must be inappropriate to subsidize the development of wind turbines where this is at the expense of fishing and the marine environment.

On that basis, the Norwegian Fishermen’s National Board therefore says NO to the fact that further areas will now be opened for the development of offshore wind farms and along the coast of Norway.

This week, the Norwegian Fishermen’s Association has sent a letter to the government by Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre, as well as several ministers, about the national board’s decision. This letter is attached below, together with other inquiries about offshore wind power in the last year.

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Norwegian Fishermen’s Association says NO to further offshore wind turbines

by editor time to read: 7 min