– There are probably not many projects in Norway where more days in the field have been invested than with Davvi, begins Kjetil Mork of Multiconsult.
He is the project leader for the environmental impact assessment of the Davvi wind farm. The work started all the way back in 2012 when the first field biologists went out into the planning area. Ten years later, the environmental impact assessment is ready.
– The area has been thoroughly investigated. We have put in significantly more effort than the normal practice for wind power projects in Norway. Many assessments have been criticized for not having enough fieldwork, but we have always set the bar high, says Mork.
Originally, the project was much larger, but it has been scaled down, among other things, to accommodate reindeer husbandry and the wishes of Tana municipality that did not want the development in its municipality.
When they first started looking at the area ten years ago, it was much larger. There have been several rounds of adjustments to the planning area, primarily in terms of scaling down.
– Originally, it was a much larger project, and we scaled it down primarily to accommodate reindeer husbandry and because Tana municipality did not want the development in its municipality, says Mork.
Now they are left with an area of 63 square kilometers, which is only one-tenth of the original area but still significant in size.
The area has very little vegetation, which, in turn, means there is little wildlife. Here in the central part of the western subarea.
Karrig: Det er svært lite vegetasjon i området, noe som igjen gjør at det er lite dyreliv. Her sentralt i det vestlige delområdet.
Mork is the project leader for the environmental impact assessment and has naturally been to the area several times. But he has nowhere near as many field hours as the others involved. With him, he has had field biologists and those responsible for landscape, outdoor activities, and cultural heritage assessments.
– It is important to gain a very good impression of the environmental qualities, natural conditions, and topography in the planning area. I feel that we have obtained a solid overview, says Mork.
Those who have spent the most time in the area are the field biologists. To map flora and fauna adequately, you need to get down to the ground and study the conditions.
– They have spent several weeks there over several years. They began their first trips there in 2012 and finished in 2018. They have walked back and forth, documenting findings related to vegetation, plant species, natural types, game, and especially birds, says Mork.
Bird occurrence is especially important to map due to the collision risk with wind turbines.
– Compared to areas closer to the coast with migratory birds that follow the coastal strip north in the spring and south in the fall, Davvi's location slightly inland is favorable in terms of reducing the collision risk for birds, says Mork.
Here, over the eastern subarea towards significant parts of the western subarea.
Mot vest: Her over det østlige delområdet mot betydelige deler av det vestlige delområdet.
But what does it really look like in the planning area?
– In terms of environmental quality and diversity, this is one of the most barren areas we have in Norway, says Mork. At the same time, this is an untouched area where wilderness species such as the arctic fox and wolverine may visit.
– You have these high-altitude areas with rocks and blockfields, gaissas, in Finnmark, where there is very little vegetation. Where there is little vegetation, there is also little wildlife and birdlife because there is no food base, he continues.
The surrounding areas are sparsely populated, and the area itself is difficult to access. This, along with the fact that the area has a relatively harsh climate in the winter months, means it is little used.
– The mountain Rásttigáisá on the south side of the planning area is an important hiking destination in Finnmark, but according to Lebesby municipality, the Davvi area is very rarely used for outdoor activities, notes Mork.
Image taken from the plateau just north of Rastigaissa. We see large parts of the planning area on the other side of the valley.
Oversikt: Bilde tatt fra platået rett nord for Rastigaissa. Vi ser store deler av planområdet på den andre siden av dalsøkket.
If the goal is to build wind power with as little impact on biodiversity, society, and cultural heritage as possible, Davvi looks like a good area. However, this rarely comes without drawbacks. This is precisely what NVE must weigh when the permit application is finally processed.
– On many issues, there is little conflict. In addition, there are very good wind resources up there, making the area very suitable for wind power. But establishing such a large project in a contiguous pristine natural area is not uncontroversial. There, it has the most negative impact, says Mork.
A photo taken from a helicopter a short distance east of the eastern subarea (we can see significant parts of both the eastern and western subareas).
Helikopterbilde: Bilde tatt fra helikopter et lite stykke øst for det østlige delområdet (vi ser betydelige deler av både det østlige og vestlige delområdet).
He is confident that they have done a very thorough job. You cannot literally turn over every stone in an area of 63 square kilometers, but the work that has been done has been meticulous. Historically, this has not necessarily been the case for environmental impact assessments.
– There have been a few assessments that have simply not met the standards, mainly because too little effort was put into fieldwork to map the environmental values in the development area, says Mork.
– Davvi is an example of a project where a significant effort has been made in the field to avoid criticism and orders for supplementary investigations due to inadequate fieldwork. We have always been very meticulous in doing a proper job, and I am very confident that we have done that here as well, says Kjetil Mork.