Norway’s Center Party usually champions local authorities’ rights over the state’s, except when its farming interests are threatened. That’s why Center, which currently shares government power with the Labour Party, is preventing the community of Vestby south of Oslo to allow a new IKEA store to be built on agricultural land.
IKEA has wanted to build a new store at Delijordet in Vestby for many years, and local officials now support the project. They welcome the prospect of more jobs and revenues in their area and had rezoned the land for business use. Now their plans are being spoiled, because Center Party politicians at the state level are overriding Vestby’s local authorities, and acting against Center’s own policy at the same time.
“That because preservation of farm land is in the national interest,” claimed Agriculture Minister Geir Pollestad of the Center Party. “It’s important to take national interests into consideration, also in local matters.” Pollestad stressed that only around 3 percent of the land in Norway is suited for food production and that it needs to be protected. Vestby officials are likely to appeal.