(The majority of the report is in Norwegian. However, there is an abstract in English.)
There exist comprehensive plans for wind-power development in Norway. However, it is not entirely problem-free to develop wind-power plants, as they may come into conflict with environmental, societal and other interests. A national plan (i.e., strategic environmental assessment) for wind-power development has not been prepared for Norway. However, county councils may draw up regional plans to ensure a comprehensive and long-term wind-power development in their region. Regional plans should provide guidelines for appropriate planning and site-selection of wind-power plants within the county or region. The regional plans focus on identifying and characterizing the potential for conflicts, and should strengthen the foundation for a comprehensive assessment of wind-power projects for licensing.
This report evaluates whether the regional plans, including guidelines that formed the basis for these, consent to the general requirements for strategic environmental assessment (SEA). The evaluation therefore does not consider the quality of the actual plans, and only reflects what is described in the regional plans.
Strategic environmental assessment (SEA) refers to a formal, systematic process to analyze and address the environmental effects of policy, planning and programs and other strategic initiatives. SEA extends the goal and principles of an environmental impact assessment (EIA) to higher levels of the decision-making process when more options are still open, and there is far greater extent than at the project level to integrate environmental considerations into development goals (including cumulative effects). The evaluation follows the methodology presented in the European Commission's SEA Directive (2001/42/EC), which Norway has signed:
• Environmental report
• Monitoring of significant environmental effects
In addition, the report assesses how the authorities have incorporated the regional plans into their planning policies, and puts extra focus on birds within the theme biological diversity.
The main conclusions from the evaluation are as follows: Screening, scoping, participation and planning implementation are overall well taken care of in the regional plans. In most plans, different alternatives/scenarios that reflect different strategies for wind-power development including the political and social acceptability of the level of conflict have not been defined and compared. The basis for decisions is good with respect to the plan's goals, but lacks an assessment of the areas that should be prioritized given a politically set upper limit on wind-power development as required in the context of a strategic environmental assessment. While most plans have indicated, in one way or another, the quality of the knowledge base and possible data deficiencies, they do not set focus on monitoring of significant environmental effects. Possible cumulative effects are also not well addressed in the plans at different scales. For each of the conclusions in the report recommendations are given on how those elements can be improved.