In the referendum, the residents of Sorsele did not specifically vote for or against Vattenfall’s project Sandselehöjderna but instead submitted their opinion on whether or not to approve the establishment of wind farms in the municipality.
A majority, 51.1 per cent, voted no to new wind power in Sunday's referendum (20 March).
Gustav Egerup, Acting Head of Wind Development in Sweden at Vattenfall, says: "The energy landscape of the future is based on customers and citizens being involved in making decisions. It is an exciting process and we have learned a lot in Sorsele. Even if we would like to have seen another outcome, we welcome the process of a close dialogue with customers and society. This will facilitate the identification of more flexible solutions which are more sustainable and acceptable."
In 2015, Vattenfall applied for an environmental permit for the Sandselehöjderna wind farm to erect a maximum of 100 turbines in an area of forest which has been identified as a suitable site for wind power.The county administrative board in Västerbotten had put the application on hold while waiting for a recommendation or rejection from Sorsele municipality.
The referendum on Sunday was consultative. Sorsele municipality can in principle recommend a permit independently of the referendum.
The municipal assembly have a meeting on 25 April and are likely then to discuss Vattenfall's environmental permit application.
Roland Wermelin, vice chairman of the executive committee in Sorsele says: "There is no reason to delay it. It will be discussed by the municipal executive committee, which has a preparatory responsibility, on 5 April and then we will likely discuss it in the assembly meeting on 25 April."
Wermelin thinks it will be difficult for the elected politicians to disregard the outcome of the referendum. "There was actually a large turnout and a clear majority voted no. As I see it, there is no way we can go against this outcome."
If the municipal assembly in Sorsele does not recommend Vattenfall's application when it makes its opinion known to the county administrative board, Vattenfall will not be in a position to continue with the work at Sandselehöjderna.
"It would of course be very disappointing, as Sandselehöjderna offers ideal wind conditions and would give Sorsele and Sweden a good additional supply of renewable energy. But this is the democratic process and we of course accept the municipality’s position," says Gustav Egerup and continues: “We understand that many residents in Sorsele wished that the municipality could benefit from the revenue generated by the wind turbines. Vattenfall assesses that there is no scope for this within the framework of current legislation. However, there is a promise of support for local development, through a cooperative, provided that a permit is issued and the wind farm is built.”
Facts: Vattenfall in Sorsele municipality
Vattenfall has had the Juktan wind farm (nine wind turbines) in Sorsele municipality since the turn of the year 2015/2016.