Sweden’s Land and Environment Supreme Court has rejected Statkraft’s planned wind farm in Tribbhult, Västervik municipality.
The judgment follows the municipality withdrawing its previous approval for the up to 16-turbine wind farm. The court therefore judged permission could not be granted.
“The verdict is regrettable and sends a negative signal to the industry that the permit processes surrounding the design of new wind power are highly uncertain,” said Statkraft Sweden chief executive Jakob Norström.
“This at a time when the demand for electricity in Sweden is expected to double by 2045. Something must change from a political point of view if Sweden is to succeed in getting the electricity production required to meet the demand.”
The judgement follows a protracted development process for Tribbhult, with Statkraft submitting an application back in 2014. The project has been revised a few times and has been subject to review in several instances.
The municipal council in Västervik has twice approved the project, but in 2021 it withdrew its approval. In 2022, Västervik gained a new political majority and the municipal council decided to use its veto on the matter.
The Land and Environment Supreme Court’s conclusion is that the municipality has the right to change its mind as long as a permit process is ongoing and, if there is no authorization from the municipality, a permit cannot be granted.
“We are reviewing the verdict together with our lawyers. Statkraft has ambitions to grow in the Swedish market. We have several projects underway and continue to look for opportunities,” added Norström.
The judgement was met with dismay by the wind sector.
“By rejecting the permit application for the Tribbhult wind farm, the Land and Environment Supreme Court clarifies the shortcomings of the municipal wind power veto,” said industry body Svensk Vindergi.
“A legally secure, predictable and efficient permit process is fundamental for a large-scale expansion of electricity production. That a municipality can change its mind at any time in the process is extremely worrying when the need for expanded electricity production, without government subsidies, is greater than ever.
“The veto must be adjusted. Now.”