Planning for Whose Benefit? Procedural (In)Justice in Norwegian Arctic Industry Projects


A growing interest in Arctic resources leads to increased pressure on local authorities to accept new industrial projects in their areas. This includes mining, petroleum, wind energy and less mature technologies like hydrogen and ammonia production. This is also seen in Northern Norway where the High North (Nordområdene) region has become an area of strategic interest, particularly in terms of energy and security discourses (see Jensen and Hønneland, 2011; Jensen and Kristoffersen, 2013). To date, only two petroleum projects have been realized in the region: the liquefied natural gas (LNG) project Snøhvit and the oil project Goliat, both located near the town of Hammerfest. Two more fields are in the construction and planning stages, and Barents Sea petroleum continues to be controversial – though more so nationally than regionally. Conflicts over two prospective mining projects, Nussir in west Finnmark and Biedjovagge in east Finnmark, have also marked the past decade. Construction has already started in the case of Nussir, while Biedjovagge was aborted at an early stage by the municipality to avoid damaging land used for reindeer herding. These conflicts concern both the rights and interests of the Indigenous Sámi and the distribution of burdens and benefits for all parts of the region’s population. New controversies have also emerged over onshore wind power and proposals for new renewable projects that are part of the transition to low carbon energy sources, and, more recently, over the increased energy demand if the electrification of the petroleum sector takes place in the north. Arctic Justice While mining and petroleum projects have received a lot of interest from academia (Dale, 2019; Dannevig and Dale, 2018; Magnussen and Dale, 2018; Nygaard, 2016; Arbo and Hersoug, 2010), a thorough discussion of justice which examines how theoretical approaches can be applied to processes and outcomes of energy and mining projects in the Arctic is still lacking. Examining two recent/ongoing cases from mining and petroleum, this chapter will investigate procedural, distributive and recognition (in)justice and ask what can be improved for future planning processes. We thus examine how industry regulation produces other kinds of injustices, and point to what future regulation in the region should take into account. These cases also have wider implications across the circumpolar Arctic, as the need to ensure governance mechanisms secure Indigenous rights in potential energy and mining projects is a recurring issue across the region.