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Environment Associations Take Minister to Court

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Environment Associations Take Minister to Court

Minister for the Environment Sigrún Magnúsdóttir.

Minster for the Environment Sigrún Magnúsdóttir. Photo: Ministry for the Environment.

The environment associations Landvernd and Fjöregg are taking Icelandic Minister for the Environment Sigrún Magnúsdóttir to court for failing to declare certain areas in Skútustaðahreppur district, North Iceland, as protected, RÚV reports. Sigrún stated she regrets how much time the process has taken.

When law regarding the protection of Mývatn lake and Laxá river took effect in 2004, the main emphasis was on protecting the biosphere of the lake and its surroundings. The law also contains an interim provision, requiring that other areas in the vicinity, regarded as having the most geographical value, be declared as protected.

According to Snorri Baldursson, president of Landvernd, declaring those areas, one by one, as protected was meant to have been completed by January 1, 2008. Only a few areas, however, have been. Among them is Dimmuborgir lava field, but much work remains to be done. Landvernd insists that the plan be completed, with whole areas of landscape being considered, rather than single natural pearls. One of the areas being disputed is the lava field Leirhnúkshraun, which is part of the area in which a controversial power line is being constructed by the electric utility company Landsnet.

Snorri maintains that had the Leirhnúkshraun lava field been declared as protected in time, Landsnet would have been required to find a way to circumvent the area when building the power line.

The environment minister regrets how long the process of declaring areas as protected has been. She insisted there is no lack of interest in declaring the areas as protected, but explained that it’s time-consuming and complicated, and frequently runs in a hurdle with municipalities. When the municipalities are more than one, she described the process as next to impossible.

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