Planning for wind farms in Norway requires independent impact assessments, and in the case of the Davvi wind farm, the engineering consultancy Multiconsult has spent thousands of hours in the planning area.
“There are not many projects in Norway where more work hours have been spent in the field than with Davvi,” says Kjetil Mork at Multiconsult.
Mork is the project leader for the impact assessment of the Davvi wind park. This was a project that started all the way back in 2012, when the first field biologists went out to the planning area. The impact assessments are a crucial part of the permit application for the Davvi wind park that the Norwegian Water Resources and Energy Directorate (NVE) is currently evaluating.
“The area has been thoroughly investigated. We have put in a significant effort compared to previous practices for wind power in Norway, because we have always set the bar high in the field work,” says Mork.
Assessments have to be objective
From time to time, it is claimed that impact assessments represent commissioned work from the client. Mork does not recognize this claim. "We are constantly met with the argument that it is the developer who pays for the assessments and therefore gets the conclusions they want. But that’s not true," he emphasizes.
"We make our assessments based on standard and established methodology. The developer can of course read through our reports, but they have no influence on the conclusion. ,," states Mork.
Weeks in the field
Mork is responsible for the impact assessment and has naturally visited the area several times. But he has not spent nearly as many hours in the field as the others involved.
“It is important to get a very good impression of environmental qualities, natural conditions, and topography in the planning area. I feel we have gained a truly solid overview of this,” he says.
The field biologists have spent the most time in the area.
“They started the first field work in 2012 and finished in 2018. They have crisscrossed the area and recorded findings related to vegetation, plant species, nature types, wildlife, and birds,” notes Mork.
Little vegetation, little wildlife
“In terms of the natural environment and diversity, this is one of the most barren areas we have in Norway,” says Mork.
The surrounding areas are sparsely populated, and the area itself is difficult to access. This, together with the fact that the area has a relatively harsh climate in the winter months, means that it is rarely used.
Not able to take a stance
If the goal is to build wind power with the least possible impact on biodiversity, society, and cultural heritage, Davvi seems like a good area. But this rarely comes without drawbacks. This is precisely what NVE must weigh when the permit application is finally processed.
"Our mission is to provide a good knowledge base so that the NVE can make a decision on the project. In our reports, it is not the case that we recommend or advise against development. That is not our mandate. We describe what the consequences will be, and then it is up to the NVE to assess whether the benefits outweigh the drawbacks," emphasizes the Multiconsult advisor.