In an interview with Kastljós last night Minister for the Environment, Sigurður Ingi Jóhannsson, said he would support any conclusions drawn by the commission overseeing development of natural resources in Iceland regarding Þjórsárver, even if it meant the sacrifice of several waterfalls.
The commission was created by the previous environmental minister, Svandís Svavarsdóttir and is composed of six project managers. Its purpose is to investigate opportunities for creating projects developing natural resources in Iceland but similarly to ensure the environment is sufficiently protected against damage.
The previous environmental minister wanted to increase the protected area around the Þjórsá river to prevent the creation of Norðlingalda Reservoir for electrical power, which she argued would do environmental damage to the river.
However Sigurður Ingi Jóhannsson recently said he intends to change the shape of the protected area.
Katrín Júlíusdóttir, MP for the Social Democratic Alliance believes Jóhannsson wishes to make this change to accommodate the creation of the Norðlingalda Reservoir that the previous minister of environment opposed.
The Iceland Nature Conservation Association already objects the possibility of development in Þjórsá, saying that it would not only effect the river but the surrounding area as well. The waterfalls Kjálkaversfoss, Dynkur and Gljúfurleitarfoss, for example, which are downstream, would be “ruined”.
When asked whether he thought it justifiable to sacrifice the waterfalls in Þjórsá for the sake of a power plant the minister said: “Tremendeously beautiful waterfalls and a beautiful area and I will respect the conclusions that the project managers [on the commission] draw when they have finished investigating.”
When pressed to answer whether or not the minister felt it justifiable to sacrifice the waterfalls in Þjórsá the minister said, that should the commission come to the conclusion that it was alright, he would respect it.
Þjórsárver is an integral nesting spot for a large proportion of the world’s goose population, and has been protected by both the Environment Agency of Iceland and the Ramsar Convention since 1981.