Left-Greens to Protest Iceland’s Environment Minister

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Left-Greens to Protest Iceland’s Environment Minister

The Young Left-Greens are planning a demonstration outside the Alþingi building in Reykjavík next Tuesday when parliament reopens in protest of Minister of Fisheries, Agriculture and Environment Sigurður Ingi Jóhannsson’s recent announcement that he intends to revoke new nature protection laws.

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Þjórsárver. Photo: Páll Stefánsson.

In a statement on their website, the Young Left-Greens declare a vote of no confidence over Sigurður, describing him as an “enemy of nature.” The movement encourages all environmentalists to attend the demonstration.

“It was of course clear that the bill was disputed when it was introduced,” Sigurður reasoned in support of his decision to revoke the nature protection laws that were passed at the end of March 2013 and supposed to take effect on April 1, 2014, Fréttablaðið reports.

The minister is planning to submit a new bill at Alþingi this autumn, suggesting that the nature protection laws be revoked. If passed, the current nature protection laws from 1999 will remain in effect.

Sigurður said the entire legislation will be reviewed, among other items because of a clause limiting traffic in the highlands. “Many remarks were made because of the bill on which no agreement was reached. It is important that there is solidarity on such basic legislation.”

Sigurður added that the extensive and effective work that was carried out in making the nature protection bill will be used in forging a new legislation.

The legislation was highly controversial. Among those against it was the 4x4 travel club, who claim that the new laws would severely limit people’s freedom to travel the highlands.

“[The minister] is demonstrating responsibility with his actions. We requested at the time that the bill be reviewed in its entirety,” chair of 4x4 Sveinbjörn Halldórsson told Fréttablaðið.

MP for the Left-Green Movement Svandís Svavarsdóttir, who is Sigurður’s predecessor, stated that his intention to revoke the nature protection laws that were passed by parliament shortly before the election last spring is “without precedent” and “betrayal” to an agreement that was made.

When the law was passed, the then government and opposition agreed to postpone the law’s ratification by one year. “For a minister to revoke an entire legislation is without precedent, as far as I can tell. He could easily have reviewed the parts he wanted to review but perhaps he is simply against nature protection,” Svandís commented.

Managing director of nature protection association Landvernd Guðmundur Ingi Guðbrandsson told Fréttablaðið that extensive work has already been invested in reviewing the legislation Sigurður is planning to revoke.

“Revoking it has to be supported with sound arguments,” he commented. “Overall, we were content with the legislation. It was more solid and clear that what we’ve had for nature protection so far.”

Related:

20.09.2013 | Environment Minister: Highland Reserve Protected Soon

15.08.2013 | Minister of Industries Favors Controversial Dam

ESA