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Power Line Project Gets Permit to Resume

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Power Line Project Gets Permit to Resume

Þeistareykir

Þeistareykir geothermal power plant, which is to provide power to the Bakki industrial area. Photo: Páll Stefánsson.

There is a new development today regarding the controversial power line to the PCC silicon plant under construction at Bakki, near Húsavík, North Iceland.

The planning committee of Skútustaðahreppur district has decided to give the electric utility company Landsnet permission to go ahead with its power line project for line 4 from Krafla, RÚV reports. The Icelandic Environment Association, Landvernd, had insisted the project permit be revoked, claiming the project went against environmental laws, enacted last year, aimed at protecting sensitive lava fields.

Landvernd wanted the location of the power line to be moved and parts of it to be laid underground. Landvernd and the environmental association Fjöregg had filed a complaint with the ruling committee for environmental and natural resource regarding the power line project.

On October 10, the ruling committee invalidated the original decision of Skútustaðahreppur district to agree to grant Landsnet a permit to build a power line from Krafla to the industrial area at Bakki. The ruling pointed out that when considering the project permit, the local authorities should have taken the new environmental laws into account.

Despite that ruling, Landsnet resubmitted an application for a permit to continue work on the project. Skútustaðahreppur district’s decision today to grant Landsnet the permit is supported in more detail than it was the first time.

The district maintains that laying the power line underground was not a realistic option. The project applied for was, according to them, in line with planning that had undergone an environmental assessment.

The decision is furthermore supported by quoting law regarding electric power, which stipulates that local authorities are to ensure that planning decisions don’t hinder the progress of projects confirmed in a three-year electrical system plan, which includes Krafla.

Skútustaðahreppur district believes that the project has only damaged the lava field as much as was necessary, given the goal of the project. The environmental law stipulates that lava fields must not be damaged unless absolutely necessary.

The committee concludes that major economical and societal interests are reasons for the project to resume and for further unforeseeable delays to be avoided.

According to information from Landvernd, the ruling committee for environmental and natural resource has yet to rule on the validity of two project permits for the power line where it crosses other districts. Besides, about ten percent of landowners have not yet approved the power line, which is to go through their property.

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