Plans to create two new national parks, one in the hills and forests just east of Oslo called Østmarka, have been voted down by a majority on the Parliament’s energy and environmental committee. Proponents, however, claim they’re not giving up on the projects.
Newspaper Dagsavisen reported during the weekend that the two government parties (the Conservatives and Progress Party) backed by the Center Party voted against designating the southeastern portion of Østmarka as a national park. The designation would thus protect it from development and restrict its use.
It’s highly unusual for the Center Party to side with the conservative government parties, but in this case its environmental policy was once again set aside in favour of ranchers who don’t want any restrictions on sheep grazing or wildlife in the area. After bashing the government on a variety of issues lately, the Center Party actually sided with the government parties in this case.
The Labour Party (with which the Center Party hopes to form a government after the next election), the Socialist Left (SV), the Greens and the Liberal parties all voted in favour of a small national park in Østmarka, a popular recreation area for residents of surrounding communities. They couldn’t form a majority, though, and now hope to rally forces with the city governments of Oslo and Ski, which actually own the land the in question.
Plans for a national park around the popular mountain formation Preikestolen in Rogaland, western Norway, also fell through. As in the case of Østmarka, not all the municipalities adjoining the proposed park area favoured the environmental preservation measures it would involve. The Center Party, the Conservatives and the Progress Party had little interest in planning other national parks around the country either, suggesting that enough land in Norway is protected already.