Reykjanes Eruption: Off-road Driving Won’t Be Permitted

People admiring lava flowing from the crater in Geldingadalur on the Reykjanes peninsula

The Environment Agency of Iceland has reported nine incidents of off-road driving at the Eruption site in the Reykjanes Peninsula to the police, RÚV reports. The Agency will not grant exemptions from the off-road driving ban for special circumstances but cinematographers can apply for a special permit.

The Environment Agency of Iceland is in direct contact with the Polices’ Department of Civil Protection and Emergency Response as well as landowners in the area over access to the eruption site. No road leads to the area so driving to the eruption site is categorised as off-road driving. There is one accessible path to the eruption but vehicular traffic is limited to emergency responders, scientists and the media. While the Environment Agency has the authority to grant exemptions from the ban on off-road driving under special circumstances such as disabilities, after consulting with the Department of Civil Protection and landowners, the Environment Agency has decided not to grant any such exemptions for driving to the eruption site. They reason that the path needs to be accessible for emergency responders and doesn’t tolerate much traffic. The area is subject to considerable damage. Authorities are looking into ways to grant vehicular access to the area in the future.

Icelandic nature protection legislation also grants the Environment Agency the authority to issue special permits for off-road driving for the purposes of cinematography if the project cannot be executed any other way. Such applications can be sent through the Environment Agency’s service portal but are subject to a processing fee.

Most people approach the eruption by hiking to the eruption site but for those who don’t care to hike, there’s the option of going by helicopter or small plane.

Unemployment Rate At 8.3% in March

The unemployment rate in Iceland in March was 8.3% according to data from Statistics Iceland. That is an increase of 5.4 % compared to the same period last year and means that approximately 17,000 individuals are unemployed.

According to seasonally adjusted figures from the Icelandic Labour Force Survey, 17,000 individuals were unemployed in March 2021, or 8.3% of the labour force. Compared with February 2021 the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate increased by 1.9 %. Over the last 6 months, employment decreased by 0.3 % and unemployment increased by 0.4 %.

The number of 16–74-year-olds active on the labour market was estimated to be 202,700 (±6,700) in March 2021. Of active individuals, the number of employed persons was 186,200 (±4,900) and 16,700 (±3,400) were unemployed and looking for a job. The employment rate was 70.8% (±2.6) and the unemployment rate 8.2% (±1.7). Compared to March 2020, the number of unemployed individuals increased by 11,200 between years, or by 5.4 %.

Considerable labour market slack was seen on the Icelandic labour market in March 2021. Results from the Icelandic Labour Force Survey indicate that around 37,600 individuals had an unmet need for employment, 17.4% of the labour force and potential labour force. Of those individuals, 44.3% were unemployed, 17.9% ready to work but not looking for a job, 16.2% looking but not ready to work and 21.6% employed but wanted to work more. The labour market slack has increased by 7.2 percentage points between years.

The Labour Force Survey for March 2021 covers five weeks, from 1 March through 4 April 2021. The sample consisted of 1,904 individuals, 16-74 years old and domiciled in Iceland. When those who were domiciled abroad or deceased had been excluded, the net sample consisted of 1,861 individuals. Usable answers were obtained from 1,202 individuals which corresponds to a 64.6% response rate.

Four Fish Farms On Land Planned In Þorlákshöfn

thorlakshofn iceland

Construction on what is to become the country’s largest fish farm on land is begun, a short distance from Þorlákshöfn in southern Iceland, RÚV reports. The fish farm could produce over 20,000 tonnes of salmon per year and create around 150 jobs. Three more companies plan to start fish farming on land in the area, which requires a great deal of energy.

Landeldi is owned by six Icelanders, one of whom is Ingólfur Snorrason. He told RÚV that an environmental impact assessment for 6.000-tonne annual production has already been approved but that the company intends to increase their production to 20,000 tonnes before long. He stated that export to the US market was under consideration and that the fish farm could create around 150 jobs in the area. “We’ve started production. We have a spawning centre close to Hveragerði where we have around 800,000 roe and young fish. Let’s call it our first generation.” He added that the fish will have grown large enough to be slaughtered and sold by the end of next year.

While fish farming in sea pens has been criticised for its environmental impact, fish farming in tanks on land eliminates many problems such as the possibility of farmed salmon mixing with wild fish and pollution from waste gathering on the ocean floor. Such operations require more energy but Landeldi claims that Iceland’s geothermal energy can keep the production carbon-neutral.

This is not the only fish farm on land planned in and around Þorlákshöfn as three other companies intend to start such a business, Fiskifréttir reported earlier this month. Þorlákshöfn Mayor Elliði Vignisson stated that companies like this required a lot of energy and that he believed the government should ensure that energy prices for environmentally friendly food production should be lower. A fish farm on land capable of producing 20,000 tonnes of fish requires around 120-megawatt hours per year.