Country divided over Lofoten drilling

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A slight majority of Norwegians support drilling for oil off the coast of Lofoten and Vesterålen in northern Norway, although the majority of those in the north itself are opposed, suggests a poll by Sentio for  newspaper Nationen.

Debate has raged over whether to explore for oil in the sensitive northern coastal locations, with the poll showing that 38.1 percent support the idea, 35.7 percent oppose it and 26.2 percent remain undecided.

These countrywide figures are nevertheless reversed when the results for north Norway alone are considered, where 43.3 percent are against, 40.3 percent are in favour and 16.5 percent do not take sides.

Despite the slim favourable majority overall, leading opponents of the potential operation have focused on the particular regional findings as evidence that such oil drilling would be unpopular with the people most likely to be affected.

“The depiction that people in the north are in favour of the offshore drilling is not in line with these numbers,” commented the leader of parliament’s energy and environmental committee, Erling Sande, a representative of the Center Party (Senterpartiet, Sp). Members of their red-green coalition partners, the Socialist Left Party (Sosialistisk venstreparti, SV), also voiced their opposition. The poll showed that nearly 70 percent of SV and Sp voters polled were against the drilling operation.

With the majority of Labour Party (Arbeiderpartiet, Ap) supporters also in opposition to the plans, all eyes will now be on the government’s decision regarding the environmental impact study of the project, likely to be taken before Easter.

Meanwhile, a regular Gallup poll on political party support released late last week showed that the Conservative Party (Høyre, H) remain Norway’s biggest party with 27.2 percent of the vote, just ahead of Ap at 26.9 percent. The Progress Party (Fremskrittspartiet, Frp) fell to 21.6 percent, with SV up to 6 percent, and Sp at 5.4 percent. The biggest news came for Venstre, Norway’s Liberal Party, which received its strongest share under new leader Trine Skei Grandes at 5.3 percent.

Views and News from Norway/Aled-Dilwyn Fisher
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