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Power Line Struggle Continues

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Power Line Struggle Continues

Þeistareykir

From Þeistareykir geothermal power plant. Photo: Páll Stefánsson.

Landvernd, the Icelandic Environmental Association, and PM Sigurður Ingi Jóhannsson disagree on whether environmental laws passed less than a year ago should be retroactive and, thus, able to halt projects already approved.

Sigurður Ingi believes too much is at stake for North Iceland, where a silicon plant is to be constructed, RÚV reports. He states that when the law was passed, no one gave it a thought that it might be retroactive.

Guðmundur Ingi Guðbrandsson, CEO of the Environmental Association, maintains, on the other hand that government is prohibited from influencing the decisions of the ruling committee for environmental and natural resource issues. In his opinion, such an intervention is a violation of international agreements.

We recently reported that the ruling committee decided in August that the work on power lines to PCC’s silicon plant at Bakki, North Iceland, must be halted for the time being for environmental reasons, in particular to protect lava fields affected.

Work may not resume while the committee analyzes the complaint submitted by Landvernd, the Icelandic Environment Association, regarding the project. The decision will delay work on the power lines for almost a year.

Sigurður Ingi calls the situation serious: “We’re looking into what the situation is in this matter and whether there really is a situation where all this can explode during the last stretch when everything is in full swing. And whether the state faces possible claims, and the firm and the project disappear, and whether the municipality will suffer a big blow, if not bankruptcy.”

Guðmundur stated, “The PM’s message yesterday was in fact to meddle with the law after the fact, so that the conclusion of this independent agency will be likelier to suit the government’s agenda. In our opinion, of course, this is completely unacceptable in a democratic society.”

Guðmundur insisted that if there is willingness in government and by Landsnet, the company responsible for constructing the power lines, to solve the dispute before the environmental committee rules on the issue, then they must offer a realistic suggestion for a new power line location, which avoids lava fields.

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