The Minister for the Environment has submitted a bill to parliament increasing the protection of undeveloped land, which may have been inspired by a controversy arising from a tour bus company last summer.
The bill in question focuses specifically on the use of off-road vehicles. While it would permit the use of some vehicles on glaciers or frozen ground, it makes the language of an existing law on off-road driving more exact. With the passage of this bill, driving any vehicle outside of established roads will be strictly illegal.
The bill is reminiscent of a controversy which arose last August, when the Czech tour company Tatrabus released a video of its vehicles engaging in dangerous and environmentally damaging behaviour. This included letting passengers ride on top of its buses as it drove at high speeds through a river, and at least one photograph showing evidence that it had driven off-road.
Driving off-road, with few exceptions, is banned in Iceland because of the fragile state of the ecosystem. Even moss is protected, as it takes in some cases hundreds of years to grow, and helps reduce soil erosion.
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