Judicial assessment negotiations on the validity issue concerning the Balsfjord – Skaidi power line took place in Nord-Troms District Court in October. Four districts are disputing the validity of the licence for construction of a power line from Balsfjord to Skaidi; 24T Helligskogen, 37 Skarfvaggi, 26 Lákkonjárga, and 22 Fiettar. They rejected seeking compensation by judicial assessment, as they believed the measure (power line) was a violation of international law. The validity of the licence and expropriation permit therefore had to be determined before the compensation by judicial assessment could be sought.

Nord-Troms District Court has now rendered its decision; the licence and expropriation permit were found to be valid, and compensation by judicial assessment can be sought as planned.

The measure’s (power line’s) expected consequences for all districts are not considered to constitute a violation of international law, not for individual districts nor individual reindeer herders. The impact entailed by establishment of a new power line can be addressed through mitigating measures, and ensuring that such measures are in place when construction starts.

The intervention is not of such a nature that anyone will be denied the right to conduct business, and the right to practice Sami culture is not threatened by the establishment of a new 420 kV power line.

Statnett is pleased with the outcome of the case;

“It’s good to have this clarified; legal processes take up time and resources for all parties,” says Jacob Grønn, Project Manager Balsfjord – Skaidi.

Grønn emphasises that mitigating measures are in place and are stipulated in the approved Construction and Environmental Management plans. The most impactful mitigating measure in this context is stopping the construction work, which will be used during the most vulnerable periods for reindeer herding – during spring migration, calving, autumn migration and tagging.

Statnett must pay legal costs for the four reindeer grazing districts, totalling approx. NOK 3.5 million.

Compensation issue

The judicial assessment case, where compensation will be assessed for affected landowners and rights holders where we have not entered into amicable agreements, is scheduled for 27 August – 16 September 2018 for the Balsfjord – Reisadalen section, and 29 April – 19 May 2019 for the Reisadalen – Skillemoen section. This will assess whether considerations during the construction period and already implemented mitigating measures have been sufficient, or whether additional compensation must be granted.