Oil drilling halted in northern Norway
Friends of the Earth Norway are celebrating the decision of the Norwegian government, despite massive pressure from the oil industry, to hold off on oil activity in the areas of Lofoten, Vesterålen and Senja in the north of the country.
The decision, made on March 11, has been the main campaign priority of the Norwegian environmental movement for many years due to the ecological sensitivity of the area just above the Arctic circle. The area is a breeding ground for increasingly endangered marine life such as cod.
In addition to pressure from environmentalists and local fishermen, the minister involved in the decision cited the Deepwater Horizon oil spill that took place in the Gulf of Mexico last year as an influencing factor.
"The chances for such an accident are small, but the consequences would be enormous," said Erik Solheim, the Environment minister.
Speaking on the victory Friends of the Earth Norway's Lars Haltbrekken said:
"We are very pleased that the government has decided not to start an impact assessment study of oil exploration off Lofoten and Vesteraalen in the lifetime of this parliament.
"We, along with others, had long warned against oil activities in this vulnerable regions given the presence of fish stocks and marine life.
"At the same time we know that the issue will come up again in 2014 both in Lofoten and Vesteraalen, but also in key (cod) spawning and nursing areas off the coast of the (nearby) Moere region."