Ultra Marathon in Icelandic Highland This Summer

Fjallabak - syðra highland

The Environment Agency of Iceland has granted Arctic Yeti Ltd. permission to hold a so-called “Ultra Marathon” in Iceland’s highland this summer. It’s the first time such a run has been held in Iceland: participants will have six days to traverse 280 kilometres (174 miles) between June 26 and July 3. Arctic Yeti CEO Javi Gálves told mbl.is the company hopes to make the marathon an annual event.

It is estimated that there will be about 50 participants in the marathon, which will partly take place around Fjallabak and Þjórsárdalur, protected areas in Iceland’s highland. The running route contains a mixture of main roads in the area, dirt roads, and highland hiking trails.

Marathon participants will stay at campsites within Þjórsárdalur valley for the duration of the run. The campsites will be set up by Arctic Yeti, who will provide tents and other necessities to runners. Participants will be required to carry organic waste bags for their personal use, which will be disposed of in designated areas.

Arctic Yeti is a Spanish travel agency that specialises in trips to the Nordic countries. They have previously held an Ultra Marathon in Costa Rica.

Independent Media Bill Passed in Icelandic Parliament

Parliament press media journalist photographers

The Icelandic parliament passed a bill yesterday that will provide financial support to independent media companies, Vísir reports. Through the legislation, the state will grant up to ISK 400 million ($3.3 million/€2.7 million) to privately-owned media companies, which can apply for up to 25% reimbursement of eligible expenses: salary costs and payments to contractors working on collecting and disseminating news.

Thirty-four MPs voted in favour of the bill, while 11 voted against it and 12 abstained. The bill was introduced by Culture Minister Lilja Alfreðsdóttir. All members of her party (the Progressive Party) voted in support of the bill, as did all Left-Green Movement MPs and all Social-Democratic Alliance MPs that were present for the vote. All MPs of the Centre Party voted against the bill as did one member of the Independence Party, former Justice Minister Sigríður Andersen, and one member of the People’s Party. Three members of the Independence Party and other members of the People’s Party abstained from the vote, as did all MPs in the Reform Party and Pirate Party.

The legislation is a temporary initiative: it provides grants to independent Icelandic media companies this year and next year. Parliament passed similar legislation last year to establish a fund to help independent media companies address the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Some journalists have argued that such funding is biased toward Iceland’s largest media companies at the expense of smaller, local media.

Iceland’s ranking fell in the 2021 World Press Freedom Index, which stated that Iceland’s media system was becoming increasingly less viable. The index report pointed to lack of funding as the media system’s main problem.

UK Energy Company Announces Planned Windmill Farm in Icelandic Waters

UK company Hecate Independent Power Limited (HIP Atlantic) plans to build wind turbine farms off the coasts of South and East Iceland that would power the UK via sea transmission cables. There are no plans to connect the farms to the Icelandic power grid. The company has yet to contact the Icelandic National Energy Authority, which would need to grant permission for the project.

According to a press release from the company, the wind farms would be completed by 2025. “Crucially, the HIP Atlantic HVDC transmission cables will never connect to the Icelandic transmission system: the high availability wind capacity will be solely connected to the United Kingdom, dispatched by National Grid,” the release states. HIP already operates wind farms in the Irish Sea and North Sea. The Icelandic farms would be located in a different meteorological catchment area in order to be able to supply electricity when the company’s other farms are becalmed.

The initial Icelandic investment for the first 2,000 MW pilot phase of the project is expected to be £2.9 million ($4 million) in 2021 rising to an additional £144 million ($200 million) through 2025. The company expects the project to created up to 500 new jobs located in southern and eastern Iceland for the pilot phase as well as 15,000 jobs in the UK.

The project is carried out by Hecate Wind LLC, a subsidiary of US company Hecate Holdings LLC, a developer of renewable energy projects. HIP is chaired by Sir Tony Baldry, a former British energy minister. There is no precedent of a foreign energy company producing electricity withing Iceland’s economic zone. Jónas Ketilsson, stand-in of the national energy authority, Deputy Director General for Energy, confirmed to Fréttablaðið that the company has yet to contact Iceland’s National Energy Authority, whose permission is required for the project to be realised.