The black side of Norwegian environmental politics

The Førde fjord
The Førde fjord, Photo: Runar T. Hovland

The Norwegian government has green lighted a plan to let a mining company dump millions of tonnes of waste into a fjord. Once again, money and business concerns are deemed more important than our environment.

**OBS! Denne artikkelen ble første gang publisert for 9 år siden.**

The mining company plan is to remove the mineral rutile from the Engebø Mountain on the west coast of Norway. Extracting the mineral is a dirty process, which involves crushing the rocks into coarse and fine particles and adding lots of chemicals. The tailings will subsequently be dumped into the Førde Fjord, one of the most important spawning grounds for cod and salmon along the Norwegian coast.

Only three percent of the mountains consists of rutile, which means that 97 percent of the mountain is crushed into coarse and fine particles. This is blended with toxic chemicals, some of them to help the matter to sink in water. Every hour, all day long and all night long, over period for 50 years, 11 tons per minute of this chemically blended waste is to be poured into the fjord. How can this planned environmental catastrophe happen in a modern European state, which claims to have high ambitions on behalf of the environment?

Sustainable development

In the eighties the former Norwegian Prime minister Gro Harlem Brundtland lead the World Commission on Environment and Development. The Brundtland commission released their report “Our Common Future” in 1987, launching the term sustainable development as an international priority. Flagging sustainable development, effects of climate change and the importance of biodiversity, Norway took a leading role in international environmental politics.

How to deal with the climate change locally and globally has frequently been discussed in the public and national media over the years. Internationally, we Norwegians have gained respect in our efforts to deal with these problems.

But the truth is that when the environment and industry are juxtaposed, the environment looses.

Local party leader Runar Tengel Hovland

Norway is not a proponent of progressive environmental politics. We continue to expand our search for new oil fields, buying carbon credits to ease our conscience while we continue to stimulate high levels of consumption. While the discussions of climate change have dominated the public debate for years, classic issues of environmental pollution have drowned in the shadow of it. Friday April 16th is a dark day for Norway´s green image. The government´s approval of the company Nordic Minings plan of dumping millions of tonnes of chemical blender waste into the Førde Fjord, a pure fjord full of life, is nothing other than a crime against nature.

The new oil

The backdrop for this decision is developments in the oil indutry. A long awaited peak oil, decline in the investment offshore and redundancies in the oil industry has increased the effort of finding new areas to invest in to secure the high living standards in the Norwegian society. The Norwegian mountains contain minerals worth approximately 2500 billion Norwegian kroner according to some estimations. This can give rise to a new economic adventure and many new jobs.

The Norwegian Environment Agency, backed up by research, did at first not recommend the company Nordic Mining´s plans of dumping tailings into the fjord. The expected negative environmental effects were deemed to large. However, the government turned this decision around, by asking that the local and societal effects of new jobs was taken into consideration.

So is the region were the mining company is going to be placed troubled with high unemployment? No. On the contrary, the county of Sogn og Fjordane has the lowest unemployment rate in Norway with only 2,2 percent unemployed. It actually needs to import workforce from foreign countries to fill the vacancies.

Our common food supplier

Other potential mining projects across the country are waiting for the government to approve the use of our fjords for junkyard for the mining industry. Meanwhile, Norway exports seafood worldwide adding up to 37 million meals per day. Our largest export market is Poland, France, Denmark and the UK with the latter as the largest growth market in 2014, according to The Norwegian Seafood Council.

It is obviously that Norway and the fishing industry depends upon our reputation as a green nation to gain confidence among consumers that our products are safe. Thus, the fishing industry has protested against the plans, along with several other industries. Unfortunately, the right wing government backed up by the Labor Party and the Centre Party is advocating an anti-environmental politics, taking Norway backward into the future.

How we administer the spawning grounds for cod and salmon cannot only be a matter of domestic debate in Norway. The green light from the north is fading. If the mining industry is going to be the “new oil”, it is of crucial importance that other European countries get engaged and have their say about how Norway is treating the sea.

The international society cannot accept that we use our common food supplier as a junkyard for the mining industry!

Written by Runar Tengel Hovland
Local party leader of Venstre (the social liberal party)
member of the municipality council of Naustdal
Phone: +4740228142


Gunhild Berge Stang
Leader of Sogn og Fjordane Venstre

Runar Tengel Hovland

Magnhild Runde
Candidate for mayor

**OBS! Denne artikkelen ble første gang publisert for 9 år siden.**