Published November 26, 2010
The Icelandic National Planning Agency released an evaluation report wherein they state that the building of an aluminium smelter near Húsavík in north Iceland would have “significant environmental impact” on the area.
The news website Smugan reports that the report specifically deals with the power plant Þeistareykjavirkjun, located near Lake Mývatn, a series of high-tension cables delivering the power to the smelter, and the smelter itself.
According to their assessment, the National Planning Agency believes that the project would have a negative impact on the surrounding area. 17,000 hectares of wilderness would be razed, the report says, damaging not just the cosmetic aspects of the scenery but also having a negative impact on the tourist industry.
Furthermore, upon completion, the entire project would every year emit greenhouse gases totalling 14% of Iceland’s current CO2 output.
The proposed smelter has been a matter of great contention in Iceland, with many conservatives arguing that it would provide a much-needed employment boost for the country as a whole.
At the same time, it has been argued that the construction of aluminium smelters in Iceland has been conducted almost entirely by labour hired from outside the country, and furthermore, the effects on the environment – and subsequently, on the tourist industry – outweigh any projected benefits it would have to Iceland’s labour market.