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Iceland May Lose Out on Glacial Lagoon

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Iceland May Lose Out on Glacial Lagoon

Jökulsárlón

Jökulsárlón is a major tourist attraction. Photo: Geir Ólafsson.

The Icelandic state announced on Monday its intention to acquire the private land Fell in Suðursveit, to which part of the famous glacial lagoon Jökulsárlón in Southeast Iceland belongs. However, the acquisition may be up in the air because it appears that the deadline for the state to use its preemption right had already expired when the offer was made.

Fögrusalir ehf. acquired Fell for ISK 1.52 billion (USD 13.3 million, EUR 12.5 million) in a forced sale on the general market on November 4. Given that Jökulsárlón is registered as a natural monument, the state had the authority to take over the acquisition with a 60-day preemption right, Vísir reports.

The deadline expired on January 3, but the Ministry of Finance didn’t announce the state’s decision to acquire Fell for nature protection purposes until one week later. The District Commissioner in South Iceland appears to have miscalculated the 60-day deadline.

“It’s absolutely clear that the state’s preemption right in question to take over Fögrusalir’s acquisition offer had expired when the minister of finance finally decided to make a move,” lawyer of Fögrusalir Hróbjartur Jónatansson stated. “I would have assumed that within the Ministry of Finance there were individuals with the ability to count these days. It is also my opinion that the state could use 1.5 billion for something other than buying land.”

District Commissioner in South Iceland Anna Birna Þráinsdóttir said she doesn’t know how this could have happened and that the office’s employees were working on a solution.

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