Norway’s Government is set to allow the dumping of mining waste into its fjords after it won a long court battle against two environmental organisations.

Private mining company Nordic Mining has been given the go-ahead to drop 170 million tonnes of mining waste at the bottom of the Førde fjord, after a 15-year dispute with environmental groups Friends of the Earth Norway and Nature and Youth.

The ruling places Norway with Papua New Guinea and Turkey as the only countries that still grant new licenses to companies for the marine waste disposal.

The two environmental groups were trying to block the plans, arguing that the move will threaten marine ecosystems in the fjord and harm biodiversity.

After losing the case the groups were ordered by the court to pay legal fees of approximately £110,000 ($139,176), a sum that would see both groups struggle financially to continue environmental campaigns.

Truls Gulowsen, the head of Friends of the Earth Norway, told the Guardian: “This contravenes the Aarhus Convention, which states that access to justice in environmental matters should not be financially prohibitive. We just don’t have the money to pursue the case at this moment in time.” He added in a tweet that he is “disappointed” that Norway’s district court has chosen to misunderstand EU law on waste dumping and “furious” at the legal fees.

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Critics have also accused the government of ignoring its own advisers at the Norwegian Institute of Marine Research. Geir Huse, a senior scientist at the institute, said: “Our role is to do research and advise the administration about the likely consequences, but it is up to the politicians and the administration to make the decisions.

“Our assessment of this project has evolved over time. Today we conclude that we advise against marine waste disposal as it could jeopardise a healthy, sustainable ecosystem in the Førde fjord,” he added.

Nordic Mining has been given permission to dump up to four million tonnes of waste a year, although its chief executive, Ivar S Fossum, has said the company only plans to dump 1.2 million tonnes annually. The area covered in the permit is the equivalent to 4% of the fjord’s bed.

Norway faced backlash from environmental groups earlier this week after its parliament voted in favour of deep-sea mining. The formal approval makes the country the first in history to engage in commercial deep-sea mining, which scientists have warned could have dire effects on marine life.

Supporters of the practice argue that underwater deposits could help to meet growing demand for critical minerals, particularly those needed for clean energy technologies such as electric vehicle batteries, wind turbines and solar panels.