Environmental Minister To Change Protected Area

4.1.2014
Words by Paul Fontaine
The Minister for the Environment intends to change the protected area around Þjórsá river, at the behest of the national power company Landsvirkjun.

RÚV reports that the previous environmental minister, Svandís Svavarsdóttir, wanted to increase the protected area around the river. This plan was to prevent the creation of Norðlingalda Reservoir for electrical power, which she argued would do environmental damage to the river.

However, the current Minister for the Environment, Sigurður Ingi Jóhannsson - after receiving objections from Landsvirkjun - says he intends to change the shape of the protected area to exclude the spot where the reservoir would be created. This would give the power company the green light to begin development.

The Iceland Nature Conservation Association objected to the decision, saying that development would not only effect Þjórsá, but the surrounding area as well. The waterfalls Kjálkaversfoss, Dynkur and Gljúfurleitarfoss, for example, which are downstream, would be "ruined".

The minister's decision is not finalised, though - parliament as a whole finalises decisions on protected areas; not just the minister.

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