From Iceland — Helicopters Landed Illegally In Hornstrandir

Helicopters Landed Illegally In Hornstrandir

Published July 22, 2020

Catherine Magnúsdóttir
Photo by
Johanna Eriksson

Earlier last week a group of eight American travelers was flown to the nature reserve Hornstrandir in two helicopters, Fréttablaðið reports.

Helicopter flights and landings, as well as motor vehicles, are prohibited in Hornstrandir and the Environmental Agency has now filed charges against the helicopter company.

Kristín Ósk Jónasdóttir, an expert from the Environmental Agency, told Vísir that it was found out that American travelers were being transported with two helicopters first from Reykjavík to Ísafjörður and then from there to Hornstrandir where they landed in Fljótavík, where they were picked up by a boat for a trip, after which they were flown back, again via helicopter.

According to her, a local ranger had heard the helicopter in Fljótavík and made her way to the area (making quite the detour from her original inquiry) to find out about the commotion.

Seeing as how incidents of this caliber rarely happen, it was deemed appropriate to write a report and press charges, since just last year a regulation was introduced that bans all helicopter flights within the area except with special exemptions from the agency.

“This is clearly stated in the aviation record book published by the Icelandic Transport Authority and is in both Icelandic and English, and it’s required that pilots learn it well. When you are entering a protected area, it is naturally your responsibility to familiarize yourself with the rules of the area, ” Kristín tells Fréttablaðið.

The nature reserve is managed like an uninhabited wilderness and the area’s environment is protected for its bird habitats but also its tranquility.

There are fines for violations of nature conservation laws, although it is as of yet unknown how high a fine the helicopter company could receive.

According to information from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, about 250 people from non-EEA and EFTA countries (including the United States) have received confirmation that they meet the conditions for exemption from travel restrictions on arrival in Iceland on the grounds that their work is considered economically important and can not be performed later or abroad. No exemptions are granted from travel restrictions due to tourism.

A working group under the auspices of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs, consisting of employees from the Ministry for Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Employment and Innovation and Íslandsstofa, has been in operation since May to review the questions which are submitted regarding exemptions due to the urgent business of individuals from outside of the EEA and EFTA who absolutely need to travel because their work is considered substantially important and cannot be done later or from abroad.

Their conclusion follows other data by the Directorate of Immigration that provides guidelines on whether the conditions for exemption are met or not. The Border Police then take the final decision as confirmed by the Ministry of Justice.

In the 88th civil defense meeting on July 23, when asked about incoming private jets, Chief of Police Víður Reynisson responded that these are exeptions and that these examples are related to film projects as far as Víðir knows. Economically important projects.

This article has been updated (with information provided by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs).

As ever, those looking for more information or advice should go to the Icelandic Government’s COVID-19 help page.

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