Norwegian Labour Party heading for LoVeSe petroleum compromise
The Norwegian Labour Party is heading for a compromise in the question of a potential impact assessment for Lofoten, Vesterålen and Senja (LoVeSe). The areas immediately off the coast of Lofoten are to be spared, whereas the Nordland VI field may be assessed.
New signals about how the Labour Party will treat the question of a potential impact assessment off the LoVeSe coast point towards a clear compromise. The party wants to assess the southernmost areas, while the most contested areas further north are to be left out of a potential impact assessment.
Active efforts from Nordland
High North News has learned that Nordland Labour Party has been deeply involved in preparing what appears to become the official proposal from the national party’s program committee. The leader of the County Council, Thomas Norvoll, is among those who have repeatedly argued that there must be room for multiple interests in the contested areas, and that some areas may be reserved for fisheries and tourism.
It appears that the county chapter of the party has been heard on a national level, even by the Labour Union’s Secretary General Gerd Kristiansen. Kristiansen has earlier been a devote fan of an impact assessment covering the whole area, however, the other day at the ‘North in the South’ conference she opened up for compromises. Labour Party leader Jonas Gahr Støre also used the word compromise, saying ‘it may be natural to exempt some areas from petroleum activities.’
Not ‘lasting protection’
The suggestion currently in process, which is also likely to become the official proposal of the Program Committee, is that the areas south-west of Lofoten, a field called Nordland VI, may be assessed in an impact assessment, but for the areas further north – Nordland VII and Troms II – to be reserved for fisheries and tourism, at least for now.
The party is not likely to use expressions as ‘protection’ or ‘permanent protection’, however, but reserves the right to use less definite phrases such as ‘areas reserved for’ or ‘petroleum-free zones’.
Hearing in February
The petroleum industry has also expressed support of this view, arguing that it will be most interesting to approach the areas from the south. This, of course, is related to the proximity to existing fields – Norne, Skuld and, not to forget, the Åsta Hansteen field. It also means that the most contested areas immediately off the coast of Lofoten, Vesterålen and Senja can be avoided.
The proposal for a new Labour Party program is scheduled to be sent out on a party-wide hearing early February. Following that, it is to be adopted at the party’s national congress, which takes place from the 20th to the 23rd of April.
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