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Will Mývatn Hotel Project be Halted?

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Will Mývatn Hotel Project be Halted?

Fosshotel, Grímsstaðir.

This is what the hotel will look like. Photo: Basalt Architects.

The Icelandic Environment Association, Landvernd, has demanded that work on a new Fosshotel, just north of lake Mývatn, be halted, RÚV reports. Landvernd had previously reported the decisions of the Environment Agency and the National Planning Agency to allow the construction of the building.

The Environment Agency of Iceland approved the project on November 18, according to RÚV, after work on it had been halted at the beginning of October, at the request of Skútustaðahreppur district, when it was revealed that no permit had been applied for from the Environment Agency, nor had the National Planning Agency decided whether an environmental assessment was necessary.

Subsequently, the Planning Agency came to the conclusion that no such assessment was needed.

The construction site is within the sanctuary of lake Mývatn, famous for its fragile and unique biosphere. The lake’s biosphere is believed to be threatened. It was reported in March that an unusually high level of cyanobacteria (blue-green algae) in the past two summers was a clear sign of eutrophication in the lake, caused by human activity, according to Árni Einarsson, director of the Mývatn Nature Research Center. Last summer’s measurements showed a level twelve times what is considered excessive in the guidelines of the World Health Organization.

The demand by Landvernd to halt work on the hotel project has been sent to the Environmental Ruling Committee. It’s based on concerns that the building’s sewer system is insufficient. The demand is set forth that work on a sewer treatment facility be halted. Landvernd also insists that work on the construction of the hotel itself be halted, because of the wastewater system planned for it. The system will not involve two stages of cleaning, as rules on land around Mývatn require. Thus, the effect of the construction project and the hotel’s operation on the lake’s biosphere is unknown.

Landvernd has also reported the permit issued by Skútustaðahreppur district, which allows for workers’ shacks to be raised in the area. No permit for them was applied for, but laws regarding the Mývatn area require such a permit.

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