‘Monster Masts’ activists strike again

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Campaigners protesting the building of overhead power lines in Hardanger Fjord – nicknamed “Monster Masts” by detractors – took part in a sit-in protest to ground a helicopter used by state electricity authorities to install the lines on Monday.

The activists are part of an ongoing campaign to stop the building of overhead powerlines in the scenic, tourist-dependent area on the western coast of Norway. The campaign originally managed to delay construction of the masts last year, but the Norwegian government decided to press on with the project in March after a series of research committees advised against less unsightly but more expensive alternatives.

12 to 15 campaigners took part in Monday’s action, representing the group Hardangeraksjonen. The sit-in, reportedly organized spontaneously, surrounded the helicopter to stop pilots from coming on board. It began at 4pm and lasted beyond the end of the flight period at 7pm. At 9pm, the police were called. The helicopter is involved in the project to build lines between Simadal and Kvamskogen, one of the most controversial sections of the power line route.

A spokesperson for Hardangeraksjonen promised to stay sitting until removed by the police. Speaking to bt.no, another participant, Synnøve Kvamme, commented that the campaign group “believes that the construction is unnecessary, and that it represents an enormous encroachment on the unique landscape we have in Hardanger.” She said that “the goal is to ensure the closing of the development permanently,” adding that “if we can manage to start a new popular movement like last year, I believe we can do it.” The activist also criticized the government’s decision-making process as “playing to the gallery,” describing the main reason behind the masts – the need for a greater power supply to the city of Bergen – as “scare propaganda.” Responding to criticism for those involved in the project that activists were planning industrial sabotage, Kvamme said that the group were only interested in “civil disobedience.”

The campaigners held a protest just over a week ago that delayed construction for two days, and are planning another “mobilization” on June 19, when they will march to a potential camping spot along the line of the proposed power line route.

Views and News Staff