In August 2004, the Reykjavík Grapevine brought you the story of farmer Guðmundur Ármannsson at Vað near Egilsstaðir. At the time, Guðmundur was in a dispute with the National Power Company, Landsvirkjun, over the rights to build an access road through his land, for power lines to deliver electricity from Kárahnjúkar to the aluminium smelter in Reyðarfjörður. Guðmundur was having none of it. Later Guðmundur allowed a group of demonstrators to camp out on his land and conduct their operations from there, after the group had been chased off of their original camping site near Kárahnjúkar. The Reykjavík Grapevine spoke to Guðmundur to get an update on his dealings with Landsvirkjun.
/// So, what has happened since we last spoke to you?
– Not much. Landsvirkjun decided to go a different route. I refused to give them permission to go through my land and that was that.
/// What about the surrounding farmers?
– Well, the farmer at Eyrarteigur decided to call it quits. The power line was being built 100 meters from his house and he decided that living so close to a power line that big was not a viable option.
/// At first the farmer at Eyrarteigur was only being offered 1,200,000 ISK as settlement for the use of his land, was that the final outcome?
– I believe he managed to get about the worth of the house from Landsvirkjun. He moved to Akureyri.
/// Has the attitude among the locals changed in any way?
– People are worried about the economic outcome in the long run. There is a lot of money in traffic, but most of it does not belong to us. We are just borrowing it. People worry about economic downturn that is going to follow once the construction is over.
/// How was your experience having a demonstration camp living on your land?
– It was very good. Everyone was very polite and considerate. I would never have trusted a group of Icelanders of this size to camp out on my land.
/// Do you believe that a concert like this will raise awareness of the issue?
– It does a great deal, without question. I think it is a very respectable enterprise. I think that the dispute over Kárahnjúkar is going to help others in their fight to preserve areas that Landsvirkjun wants to go after. I believe that eventually Kárahnjúkar is going to be a monument to stupidity and short-sightedness.