Swedish far-right outraged over government’s wind power expansion plans
The Swedish government gave the green light to two offshore wind farms off the western coast of Sweden, much to the dismay of the eurosceptic Sweden Democrats, whose spokesperson called government ‘naive’ over the decision.
The Sweden Democrats have responded angrily to the government’s announcement that it has given the go-ahead for two offshore wind farms off the West coast, as the party is critical of the expansion of wind power.
“We are not as naively favourable to wind power in general and offshore wind power in particular as the government parties,” said Tobias Andersson, Sweden Democrats’ industrial policy spokesperson, accusing the government of “cherrypicking” the coalition agreement.
The Sweden Democrats (SD, affiliated to the European Conservatives and Reformists in the European parliament) is not part of the ruling coalition in Sweden, composed of the Moderates, the Liberals and the Christian Democrats. They offer, however, necessary support to the centre-right government of Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson in exchange for implementing their politics, namely on migration.
For the Swedish government, there is no breach of the coalition agreement as granting authorisations to build wind power plants is a competence that falls solely to the government, of which the SDs are not a part, Climate and Environment Minister Romina Pourmokhtari reminded during a press conference on Tuesday.
Strong local opposition
But opposition to the project remains fierce on the ground, even from the parties of the majority in Stockholm, whom they accused of betraying them.
Henrik Sundström, municipal councillor for the Moderate Party in Uddevalla, is deeply critical of the government’s decision.
“SD will get well over 50% on the west coast in the 2026 election if this continues,” he wrote on Twitter.
“We have voted locally and regionally that we do not want offshore wind power, and most people who have voted for the government parties here probably feel that it is a gigantic betrayal from Stockholm to allow offshore wind power,” he said, adding that people feel “sacrificed” to what they know will be a severe blow to tourism and the regional and cultural identity.
In Stockholm, the government tried to stall opposition to a project it considers essential for the country.
“The Government now explicitly states and recognises that there are conflicting objectives in almost all policies, often between climate and the environment,” said Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson during the press conference, adding that the decision had been a tricky balancing act for his government.
“Local environmental interests may sometimes have to take a back seat to long-term climate interests, not least energy production,” she added.
The parks off Falkenberg and Varberg in South-West Sweden have been waiting a couple of years for authorisation. In total, about a hundred wind turbines can supply around 6.5 terawatt-hours when fully developed or electricity to about one million households.
“These two parks are roughly equivalent to the electricity supply from a normal-sized nuclear power station,” Kristersson said.
Kattegatt South, near Falkenberg, is set to be constructed by Vattenfall, and the company OX2 is responsible for Galene off Varberg’s coast. The County Administrative Board in Halland has approved the parks, but the decision has been appealed to the Land and Environment Court by both the construction companies and environmental organisations. The companies want better conditions, and the organisations want the rich wildlife to be protected.
Kattegatt South lies between two Natura 2000 areas, rich in bird life and porpoises.
If the court says no, “there will simply be no parks”, according to Climate and Environment Minister Romina Pourmokhtari. But the government is relying on a yes from the county administrative board’s judgement.
Wind power companies must also consult with the Swedish Armed Forces on the height, location and number of wind turbines, which does not mean that the Armed Forces can say no to the wind farm, according to the Government.
“The wind farms will be located close to the Ringhals nuclear power plant, and therefore a connection to the national grid would be facilitated,” added Pourmokhtari.
(Charles Szumski | EURACTIV.com)
cover photo:The Sweden Democrats have responded angrily to the government’s announcement that it has given the go-ahead for two offshore wind farms off the West coast, as the party is critical of the expansion of wind power. [Shutterstock/balipadma]