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Rangers Condemn Proposed Dams in National Park

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Rangers Condemn Proposed Dams in National Park

Kárahnjukavirkjun hydro power plant

Kárahnjúkavirkjun hydropower plant, East Iceland, under construction. The plant became fully operational in 2009. Photo: Páll Stefánsson.

The Association of Rangers in Iceland released a statement yesterday condemning the National Energy Authority’s proposal of new power plants within and on the borders of national parks, and close to popular tourist destinations.

The association points out that six of the 50 energy harnessing options the authority has defined had already been placed in the protection category of the framework program on power plants and environment protection: Brennisteinsfjöll on Reykjanes, Arnardalsvirkjun in Jökulsá á Fjöllum, Norðlingaölduveita in Þjórsárver, Tungnaárlón in Tungnaá, Hólmsárvirkjun in Hólmsárlón and Markarfljótsvirkjun A to the east of Tindafjallajökull.

The association writes that these six potential plants are “a calculated attack on the cohesion which existed surrounding the work of the task force and the methodology of the framework program. In this way, the National Energy Authority is unfazed working against the declared policy involved in the making of the framework program, to create better cohesion and overview of the exploitation and protection of the country, for the nation’s benefit.”

The association argues that these proposals are violations of the 63rd article of the nature protection law no. 44/1999 and the 14th article of the law concerning Vatnajökull National Park no. 60/2007, prohibiting damaging the environment within it.

“There is no doubt that if these plants would be realized, it would have an extremely bad and irreversible impact on the highland of Iceland—the last untouched wilderness in Europe—and the very unique Icelandic nature and the country’s tourism industry,” the statement continues.

The association concludes that it appears as if the National Energy Authority does not care for cohesion about the protection of any area at all and that the intention is to “completely exploit all rivers and geothermal areas in Iceland for energy production.”

The matter was heatedly debated at Alþingi, the Icelandic parliament, yesterday, as the majority of the Industrial Affairs Committee made an oral suggestion of four power plant options, including in Þjórsá river, that are currently on hold be reconsidered, ruv.is reports.

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