156 people signed a notice, published in newspapers today, urging the Icelandic government to ensure that the piece of land Grímsstaðir á Fjöllum, on which Chinese investor Huang Nubo plans to built a luxury hotel, remains in public ownership.Grímsstaðir á Fjöllum. Photo by Páll Stefánsson.
The notice asks the government to protect the ownership and use of uninhabited and wilderness areas in Iceland, including farmland that stretches into the highlands or which has geographical, historical or cultural significance.
Furthermore, the signatories are calling for the formulation of a clear policy on land sale and use and ask the government to determine which lands are state-owned and will not be sold, as well as to purchase similar properties to ensure that they remain in public ownership.
Among the signatories are members of parliament, scholars, writers, priests and athletes, ruv.is reports. First on the list of names adding their support to the cause is former president Vigdís Finnbogadóttir. Also on the list are musicians Björk Guðmundsdóttir and Páll Óskar Hjálmtýsson, captain of the national team in men’s handball Ólafur Stefánsson, and former editors of Morgunblaðið Mattías Johannessen and Styrmir Gunnarsson.
After Minister of the Interior Ögmundur Jónasson rejected Huang’s application for legal exemption to buy the piece of land (a requirement for non-EEA citizens), employment development associations in the rural regions Eyjafjörður and Þingeyjarsýsla were asked to examine the possibility of municipalities in North and East Iceland buying Grímsstaðir and leasing it to Huang’s investment company.
In May they concluded that the municipalities can establish a limited company to acquire a 70 percent share in Grímsstaðir. They suggested that an Icelandic company in Huang’s ownership rent the piece of land for 40 years and pay the rent in advance.
On July 31, the Government of Iceland decided to appoint a task force comprised of ministers and employees of different ministries to discuss the planned lease of the piece of land Grímsstaðir á Fjöllum to Chinese investor Huang Nubo and developments in tourism in Northeast Iceland. The piece of land covers 300 square kilometers. ZR