Friday Naturvernforbundet / Friends of the Earth Norway celebrated the government's no to the opening of oil drilling in Lofoten Islands, and says the government has given the community a historic victory.
– This is a joyous day for all who have worked hard to keep these areas free of oil, it is a victory for the vulnerable nature, the fisheries and environmentally friendly workplaces in the north, rejoice Lars Haltbrekken, president of Naturvernforbundet. He emphasizes that the victory in Lofoten Islands gives everyone inspiration to continue fighting against the oil industry.
Friday March 11th the Norwegian government decided not to open the areas outside Lofoten Islands for oil drilling. This has been one of the most important issues for Naturvernforbundet over the last year. Calling it a historic decision, Naturvernforbundet believes the case marks a crossroads for Norway.
– It's a historic day, and the government deserves our gratefulness. This proves that our struggle gives results! The knowledge about the vulnerability of these areas combined with a great commitment all over the country has contributed to the great achievement that we have managed to stop a powerful and desperate oil lobby, said Haltbrekken.
Based on knowledge
In 2006, the Government presented the current management plan for marine areas in the north, but would not open the disputed areas of the Lofoten Islands as they were too vulnerable and valuable. Many predicted then that it would still be only a few years before the drilling would start. They were wrong.
– This decision is a decision based on knowledge. We are confident that more knowledge will strengthen our case. For every report that has come, our arguments have been strengthened. The fact that the government has listened to the environmental knowledge is important and promising for future environmental battles. Today's decision is an inspiration to continue to fight the largest polluter, the oil industry, Haltbrekken underlined.
The risk is too high
Although the Lofoten Islands with this decision were not opened for oil exploration, oil industry still gained access to several new areas in the Barents Sea, south of Lofoten Islands and around Jan Mayen. They were also granted permission to drill for oil closer to the coast of Finnmark County, and a belt of 35-50 km along the coast of Finnmark is now re-opened to oil drilling. The area has been closed since 2006 for new petroleum activity. In this area, the Governments own environmental experts have warned against oil drilling. Several areas are near major spawning grounds and important areas for fish and other marine species, including cod, haddock and fragile coral reefs. Several of the areas that the Government now invites the oil industry to drill in are close to the Lofoten Islands.
– We cannot accept major reductions in the protection of vulnerable marine areas south and north of Lofoten Islands, as the government now suggests. The risk is too high. The Government's proposal entails major concessions and must change, Haltbrekken says.
Artikkelen ble sist oppdatert: 10.06.2011