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Power Line Bill in Limelight

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Power Line Bill in Limelight

Alþingi, Iceland's parliament

From Alþingi, the Icelandic parliament. Photo: Páll Kjartansson.

An expert in international and European environmental law believes there are legal problems with the bill recently presented by the Icelandic government that aims to have a power line project in North Iceland resume, which had previously been halted due to environmental concerns.

That, according to MP Svandís Svavarsdóttir, the Left-Green Movement, who is a member of Alþingi’s Environment and Communications Committee, where the bill is being discussed, RÚV reports. Dr. Kees Bastmeijer, who is a professor of law from the Netherlands, appeared before the committee yesterday to discuss the power line project.

The project was found to violate environmental laws aimed to protect lava fields, but the government, concerned about delaying the project, decided to intervene and determined that the law did not affect projects already approved.

Svandís explained, “He [Dr. Bastmeijer] unequivocally stated that this is in all likelihood going against the European Convention on Human Rights regarding due process. By that we mean the involvement of organizations in pressing charges.” She added, “Then, he’s also concerned that the Aarhus Convention is in turmoil, that is, that it’s being bypassed by preventing independent associations from having their cases adequately processed before an independent appeals board.” (The Aarhus convention is the UN Economic Commission for Europe’s Convention on Access to Information, Public Participation in Decision-Making and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters, signed in Aarhus, Denmark on June 25, 1998.)

Furthermore, Svandís reports that the professor suspects the bill might violate the 60th article of the Icelandic constitution regarding courts of law. “At the same time, he stressed the committee could discuss these areas of dispute with constitution experts. And it’s actually the case that a few clauses in the constitution, which haven’t been discussed specifically, may have been bypassed.” According to Svandís, the office of the prime minister never analyzed those points of disagreement, but Alþingi intends to do so.

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