'Invalid' Norway wind farms to keep spinning for now, government says

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Sami reindeer herder Nils Mathis Sara, 60, drives his ATV as he follows a herd of reindeer on the Finnmark Plateau, Norway, June 16, 2018. REUTERS/Stoyan Nenov

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OSLO, Oct 27 (Reuters) - Two Norwegian wind farms that were stripped of their licences by the country's supreme court will stay in operation for the time being while their ultimate fate is decided, the government said on Wednesday.

The court on Oct. 11 ruled that the construction of the Storheia and Roan wind farms in the Fosen region, with a total of 151 turbines, had violated Sami reindeer herders' rights.

The supreme court did not say what should happen next to the facilities, but a lawyer representing the herders said the verdict means the turbines should be dismantled. read more

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Norway's energy ministry on Wednesday said it was reviewing the case and will meet with representatives of the herders.

"The supreme court's decision ... does not directly concern the aspects of the wind power plant that are regulated by the energy law," the oil ministry said.

"As a result, no immediate intervention will be made with regards to the concessions at Fosen until a thorough assessment of the case has been made," it added.

Reindeer herders in Norway argue the sight and sound of wind turbines frighten animals grazing nearby and thus jeopardise age-old traditions, and that land should not be expropriated for such projects.

The supreme court case centred on whether the construction of turbines, part of a $1.3 billion development that is Europe's largest onshore wind farm, had violated cultural rights under international conventions.

"A grand chamber of the supreme court unanimously found an interference with this right, and ruled the wind power licence and the expropriation decision invalid," the court said in a statement accompanying its verdict.

Fosen Vind developed both sites and remains the main owner of Storheia. Fosen Vind is owned by Statkraft (STATKF.UL), TroenderEnergi (TROEN.UL) and Nordic Wind Power DA, a consortium of Energy Infrastructure Partners and Swiss power firm BKW (BKWB.S).

Following the verdict, Fosen Vind said it hoped to apply for a new licence that would not violate the rights of Sami reindeer husbandry.

The Roan wind farm is now a separate company, Roan Vind, owned by TroenderEnergi (TROEN.UL), Stadtwerke Muenchen and Nordic Wind Power.

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Reporting by Terje Solsvik, Nora Buli and Nerijus Adomaitis; Editing by Sandra Maler

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