The Environment Agency of Iceland (Umhverfisstofnun) opposes plans by Icelandair Hotels to add on to Hótel Reykjahlíð by Mývatn lake, RÚV reports. The company would like to increase the size of the hotel from 544 m2 (5,900 sq ft) to 3,556 m2 (38,300 sq ft), only 50 m (164 ft) from the shore of Mývatn lake.
The Agency expressed its opposition to the expansion in a letter to the Skútustaðahreppur district, which had requested its opinion in the matter. The construction plans call for the number of hotel rooms to increase from nine to 43. The residents of Mývatn and vicinity protested the plans in the summer.
The Environment Agency points out that the current general zoning plan emphasizes nature protection and sustainable development and believes the constructions plan to go against those. Such a large construction project within the sanctuary of Mývatn lake and Laxá river would reduce opportunities to reach those goals, because of its environmental impact. The proposed hotel building would diminish the uniqueness of Mývatn lake.
Sewer problems have been the focus of discussion in recent semesters, because of alarming changes in Mývatn’s biosphere. The Agency has stressed the importance of a three-step sewage treatment for all new construction in the area and points out in its letter to Skútustaðahreppur district that the current sewage treatment from Hótel Reykjahlíð is inadequate and requiring improvement as soon as possible.
Furthermore, the agency claims the new construction would not improve the look of the sanctuary. The impact on the sanctuary would always be negative, in addition to a negative impact on water quality and on lava fields.
Finally, the Agency believes that should this construction be permitted, that would set a precedent for others, making future management of the area difficult.