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Participating in planning and permitting procedures

Community Dialogue in Fosen, in Norway

In Fosen, south-western Norway, several wind energy projects are currently under construction; among them four projects are particularly relevant, since a constant dialogue process between developers and local communities has been successfully implemented.

The keys actors involved in the dialogue process are: the regulator authority, project developers,   municipalities (Åfjord, Bjugn, Roan, Osen), residents, interest groups (local, regional and national), the County authority (regional level), the State County Governor (national authority at the regional level).

The national regulator arranged 35 meetings to establish information channels from the authorities and the developers to the population and vice versa. The dialogue process is an informative and advisory measure and is regulated by the national Energy Act and the Planning and Building Act. It is informative since the dialogue is supposed to increase public understanding of wind energy, and it is advisory, since the population’s feedback is to be taken into consideration in wind farm impact assessments.

Although it is possible to argue that the practice implemented in Fosen, may be quite demanding in terms of resources (i.e. meeting organization), several stakeholders - even those who were opposing the wind project from the beginning, and are still not convinced of the wind farm siting - expressed their appreciation for the effectiveness of the procedures adopted, and the quality of the dialogue. Finally, even if some interest groups are still against wind farm development in Fosen, the feedback provided during the meetings and hearings induced relevant changes (i.e., number of turbines, location, size) in the wind farm projects, so that they were made respondent to local expectations and concerns.

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