– This has been a tremendously time-consuming process. At the same time, we notice extreme weather that comes more frequently and more strongly, says mayor of Sel municipality Eldri Siem (Sp).
In 1995, the municipal center Otta was hit hard by the flood Vesleofsen. The municipality shortly applied to NVE for funds for flood protection.
25 years later, the municipality has still not secured the most important parts of Otta.
– In the schemes that exist for state support, only half of the applicants receive funding. That’s pretty unfortunate.
This is what Ivar Martinsen, Executive Vice President of If Forsikring, says on the basis of reviews they have made in the «Extreme weather report from If».
In collaboration with the Cicero Center for Climate Research, they have for the second year in a row conducted a survey on how well equipped Norwegian municipalities are against extreme weather.
– It is nice to see that it has improved in one year. At the same time, there is undoubtedly a long way to go, says Martinsen.
There will be more floods and heavy rainfall
In the last ten years alone, the number of major natural disasters in Norway has increased by as much as 169 percent, according to Cicero.
The number of days with heavy rainfall is also expected to double by 2100.
– The most probable climate changes will be heavier precipitation, rain floods, rising sea levels and more landslides, says senior researcher at Cicero, Marit Klemetsen, who has worked on the report.
She emphasizes that the municipalities must work with climate adaptation in parallel with measures to cut greenhouse gas emissions.
– This is to reduce the consequences today and in the near future, she says.
122 out of 356 municipalities responded to the survey. Based on population, 63 percent of the country’s population is represented, according to If.
Half of the municipalities answer that they have carried out actual climate measures.
– It is probably easier for large municipalities with a lot of resources to do a solid job. Small and medium-sized municipalities often lack resources, competence and finances, says Martinsen in If.
The municipalities and county municipalities mainly have two options for applying for state aid related to climate change and extreme weather:
- “Grants for climate adaptation”, via the Norwegian Environment Agency, will help the municipalities with preventive work.
- Another possibility is to apply to NVE for subsidies for flood and landslide protection.
Martinsen points out that about half of the municipalities that apply for these support schemes receive it.
– The state has established schemes for this, so there is a clear will for them to contribute. But these schemes should be strengthened, and it should be easier to get support, says Martinsen, and adds that the municipalities are also responsible for checking the opportunities they have to take measures.
Believes security is at stake
Sel municipality in the hinterland is one of the municipalities that has been in a years-long application process.
18 years after they applied for support from NVE, parts of the flood protection came into place, but the municipality has still not been able to secure the most important areas.
The municipal center Otta, which is located between two river courses, has been affected by floods in 2008, 2011, 2013, 2014, 2018, and the spring of 2020.
Siem says they are still in dialogue with NVE about the remaining flood protection.
– We do many measures ourselves, but we do not have a chance to manage this without help, says Siem, and continues:
– The situation is very critical. Not only financially, but also in terms of security for the citizens. The government must have a significantly larger budget for NVE so that they can do their job.
Says NVE must prioritize
The Ministry of Petroleum and Energy is responsible for NVE.
In an e-mail to NRK, Minister of Petroleum and Energy Tina Bru (H) writes that she understands the impatience of several municipalities.
– In recent years, the government has strengthened floods and landslide allocations. For next year, more than NOK 340 million is proposed for NVE’s work to prevent flood and landslide damage, says Bru.
In last year’s state budget, the sum was set at NOK 292 million.
Furthermore, Bru emphasizes that it is up to NVE to prioritize its assistance to the municipalities.
– The need for security measures is great, but the most important and cheapest measure is good spatial planning, so that we avoid building ourselves into new danger areas, says Bru.
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