Slight poll shift in ‘monster mast’ saga

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Public support for alternatives to building so-called “monster mast” power lines in scenic Hardanger has fallen – but Norwegians remain skeptical about the “monster masts” themselves, according to a new poll by research firm Sentio for newspaper Nationen.

Respondents backing undersea cables – as a less unsightly alternative to overhead power masts – numbered 43.3 percent in the latest survey, down 8.2 percentage points. This reduction in popular sympathy is largely believed to have resulted from highly publicized findings by a series of expert panels, as reported last week, which poured scorn on the financial, technical and environmental aspects of installing underground and undersea cables in the sensitive fjord region.

Optimism regarding the power lines themselves – a target of protests last year – is still muted. While the poll saw support for the overhead power lines move up by 2.7 percentage points, the level of support still represents only just over a third of those polled. The remainder expressed no preference between the ocean cables or the masts.

Regional results from the poll also reveal that the undersea lines still attract majority support in Vestlandet, the western region affected by the project. The underground cables saw the steepest decline in support in mid- and south-Norway, including the region around the capital, Oslo.

The government will hold a hearing on February 10 to discuss the issue, after which a final decision is promised “as soon as possible.”

Views and News staff