While some research activities on Svalbard do not require prior consent from Norwegian governmental agencies, others might be dependent on approval from several agencies. Most of Norway’s legislation applies also to Svalbard and regulates several research-relevant activities in the archipelago. Researchers and research institutions must familiarise themselves with applicable regulations and obtain all relevant permits from Norwegian authorities before initiating their research activities in Svalbard.
The Svalbard Science Forum Guide to Research Permissions lists some of the other agencies that may be relevant to researchers and research institutions, depending on their planned activity in Svalbard.
Table of contents:
Applications to the Governor of Svalbard
Norwegian legislation pertaining to Svalbard in general, and the Svalbard Environmental Protection Act (2001) and regulations derived from it in particular, is highly relevant to all field research in the archipelago. This act is stricter than similar acts on the Norwegian mainland and the main purpose is to protect the unique and vulnerable nature and cultural heritage on Svalbard. More often than not, field research will require an exemption from the environmental regulations and/or a permit from the Governor of Svalbard.
All applications must be sent to the Governor of Svalbard through a module in the RiS portal. If you are in doubt as to whether you need a permit for your research or not, you can contact the Governor of Svalbard for clarification. For more information about activities that require the Governor’s consent, see Guidelines for researchers in Svalbard issued by the Governor of Svalbard. For research activities within the land-use area plan for Ny-Ålesund, Kings Bay will have to approve the activity, and as owners of the property, they will send the application to the Governor on your behalf (see below).
As a summary, this is what you need to consider when you apply for permission from the Governor on Svalbard:
- All research projects must be registered in the RiS-portal (researchinsvalbard.no).
- Everyone need to familiarize themselves on the regulations in the area where fieldwork is planned.
- As a general rule, researchers need to consider if the acticity need a permission according to the Svalbard environmental protection act and included regulations. For example, water and snow sampling in areas where it is legal to travel do not need a permission.
- Fieldwork where permission is needed, must be applied for through the RiS-portal.
- When creating an application, please be as precise as possible when defining the fieldwork period.
- Make sure the fieldwork location is set where the fieldwork actually will take place (and not at the research station in Ny-Ålesund).
- When the application is submitted in the RiS-portal, it will be sent automatically to the Governor for processing.
- If the field activity is within the area that is covered by the land use plan in Ny-Ålesund, you also have to contact Kings Bay for a statement (see section below).
Please note that the Governor of Svalbard has introduced four fixed application deadlines per year for research activity in Svalbard. (Additional information in the Governor of Svalbard’s Guidelines for Researchers in Svalbard.) The deadlines are:
1 January for fieldwork in March, April, and May.
1 March for fieldwork in June, July, and August.
1 July for fieldwork in September, October, and November.
1 October for fieldwork December, January, and February.
Activities within the Ny-Ålesund land-use plan area
If your research activity requires installations, placement of instruments or any other physical impact of the ground within the area covered by the Ny-Ålesund land-use plan in any way, the application process needs to go through Kings Bay who is the land-use authority in Ny-Ålesund. Kings Bay will assess your request and investigate possible areas of conflict, or possible restrictions in the area of interest. Please note that instruments should be placed within the designated instrument areas (see map). Instruments outside these areas may be more difficult to get approval for.
The area covered by the land use plan can be viewed in the online Svalbardkartet map tool. (Make sure the following boxes in the left margin are ticked:
- Samfunn / Society > Arealplanområdet > Arealplan Ny-Ålesund
In order to assess your request and submit an application to the Governor of Svalbard on your behalf, Kings Bay will need the following information
- What are your planned activities (drawing, picture, size)
- Where (GPS position marked on a map, alternative positions)
- Why (a short and simple description of your project and a RiS number)
- How (what kind of foundation, drilling, electricity etc.)
- When (what time, and for how long)
The request should be sent to: firstname.lastname@example.org
After assessing the application, Kings Bay will send an application to the Governor of Svalbard on your behalf. The processing time will be between 4 and 6 weeks, depending on the workload in Kings Bay and the Governor’s office, so it is important to start the application process early. The Governor’s decision will be conveyed to Kings Bay, and they will subsequently inform you of the outcome.
Use of equipment emitting radio waves
Ny-Ålesund is a radio silent area, where the electromagnetic radiation activity should be kept at an absolute minimum. There are several scientific instruments in Ny-Ålesund that take advantage of the radio silence in Ny-Ålesund.
Use of wireless equipment within the frequency band 2-32 GHz (which includes both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth) is on a general basis forbidden in Ny-Ålesund itself, and in the area inside a radius of 20 km from Ny-Ålesund. All visitors, including scientists, are requested to turn off Wi-Fi and Bluetooth on all devices such as mobile phones, laptops, Kindles, cameras, digital wrist watches etc. before arriving in Ny-Ålesund. Such equipment can be used only with flight mode activated.
It is however possible to apply for permission to use radio transmitters in Ny-Ålesund for scientific and safety reasons. Scientists wanting to use active transmitters in Ny-Ålesund must:
- apply for a permit to do so from the Norwegian Communications Authority (Nkom)
- inform and coordinate with the rest of the research community in Ny-Ålesund (in particular with The Norwegian Mapping Authority)
For questions contact the NPI research coordinator: email@example.com
Use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and balloons in Ny-Ålesund
There are guidelines for use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) in the Ny-Ålesund area. The guidelines include information about applications, permitted equipment, need for coordination etc. The use of airspace must be done in dialogue with, and closely coordinated with with Kings Bay AFIS, as this kind of activity must be operated in a manner that poses absolutely no risk to air traffic.
In the event that UAVs or balloons rely on the use of radio communication equipment, such use must follow the guidelines that apply for radio transmitting equipment, as described above.
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