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Norway abandons plan for national wind framework after public backlash

The Norwegian government has abandoned plans for a national framework for wind power after a wave of protests from the public, municipalities and businesses.

Setting a framework for the rollout of more onshore wind capacity in the country was supposed to help mitigate conflict, the government said Oct. 17. But after garnering 5,000 responses to a public consultation — most of which were critical — the government said that this aim had not been achieved, and it opted to abandon the project.

Respondents made conservationist arguments and expressed concerns around the noise and aesthetics of turbines, while also calling for more local involvement in projects and faster permitting decisions.

While the current plan has been shelved, it does not mark the end of onshore wind in Norway, the government said. It now wants to revise its licensing process, taking on board the feedback from the public and businesses to the framework proposal.

For example, in any future onshore wind projects, the government will involve local governments more closely in the decision-making process for new permits, and companies will have to provide more detailed plans for their construction sites before building starts. The application process, which has historically often been lengthy, will also be shortened. And environmental concerns, the government said, will be better dealt with under a reformed system.

The government said that while it wants to "facilitate profitable renewable energy production in Norway, which also enhances value creation in the districts," it recognized that there was much engagement on the topic of wind power development. "In many places there is great resistance," it said. "The government has respect for that."

Norway is not the only country where onshore wind development has been slowed by public opposition. Germany has also seen declines in new approvals, with industry experts saying nearly every proposed project is contested.