Charging an entrance fee to visit the crater Kerið is now considered illegal by the Environment Agency of Iceland (UST).
Vísir reports that the UST has been working with the Ministy for the Environment and Natural Resources, examining existing Icelandic laws and how they apply to a recent trend of entrance fees being charged for natural sites which were previously free to access.
Amongst the conclusions UST has reached concerns Iceland’s Nature Conservation Law, the pertinent article of which states: “People are permitted, without expressed permission from landowners or rights holders, to walk, ski, skate and use a non-motorised sled or travel in a comparable fashion through non-cultivated land and stay there. Under special circumstances though, it is permissible to put up signs on gates and steps to restrict or ban people from passing through or staying on fenced off, uncultivated land in the country if it is necessary for utilising or protecting it.”
UST’s position is that Kerið is covered by this portion of the law. In order to charge admission to places like that fall under this category, a special agreement must be made between the government and the landowners who want to collect entrance fees. Those charging money to visit Kerið have not made such an agreement, so Kerið must therefore be free to access during times when it is open to the general public.
“Before we make any decisions, we need to clarify what such an agreement would cover,” UST director Kristín Linda Árnadóttir told reporters. “We will ask for a meeting with the [environmental] ministry on how we should proceed.”
As reported, a company of land owners began charging admission to Kerið last July. This has since sparked a heated debate as to how to best maintain the preservation of Iceland’s natural wonders, especially as the number of tourists visiting them rises every year, while still allowing unrestricted access to such sites.