Transport Minister: Reykjavík Cannot Build Next to City Airport

skerjafjörður

The City of Reykjavík cannot start building a residential development beside the City Airport until another location for the airport has been established, Iceland’s Transport Minister Sigurður Ingi Jóhansson has stated. Officials of Isavia, the company that operates the airport, have expressed concern that planned buildings near runways would create wind currents that would impact flight safety. City authorities had planned to begin construction of the new development this summer.

Agreement between city and state

In an interview taken at the City Airport this morning, Sigurður Ingi pointed to an agreement made between the City of Reykjavík and the state in November 2019. “As long as another option, equally good or better, has not been found nor constructed, then the agreement stipulates that this airport here, that we are standing on, must remain unchanged, both operationally and in terms of safety. And it would not, according to the analysis of Isavia and their consultants, if this construction in Skerjafjörður begins,” Sigurður Ingi stated. The development in question would involve not only building next to the airport, but on a section of the current airport lot.

1,200 apartments

The proposal for the residential development in Skerjafjörður was first approved in 2018 and is one of the areas targeted by the City of Reykjavík’s 2010-2030 municipal plan. City authorities have stated that the development “will not impair the current operations nor the utilisation of Reykjavík Airport.”

The location of the airport has been a hot topic for years: its supporters argue that moving it out of the city centre would negatively impact countryside residents and complicate emergency flights to the National Hospital, while its detractors argue that relocating the airport would free up much-needed space for housing in the city centre. A decision has in fact been made to move the City Airport, but a suitable alternate location is yet to be found.

Lambing Season Means Long Shifts for Farmers

sheep lambing Iceland

Iceland’s sheep farmers are working day and night to help their ewes give birth. The lambing season spans across five weeks from late April into early June – and some farmers say they can’t wait for it to be over. While most ewes can give birth without assistance, some do need a helping hand from their caretakers.

RÚV reporters visited Halldórsstaðir farm in North Iceland, where 150 lambs have been born in just under a week. The farm has 700 sheep and they are expected to give birth to around 1,000 lambs this season (twins are fairly common). Farmer Ragnar Jónsson says that at the farm, people only step in to help if something is going wrong. “If people always help then the ewe won’t be as strong the next time she gives birth.” Ewes and their newborn lambs are moved to special “nursery” pens where they can recover from their efforts.

From Iceland Review Magazine: Little Lamb Who Made Thee?

During the lambing season, farmers spend most of their waking hours in the sheep shed to make sure someone is always available to step in if ewes need some assistance. Guðbjörn Elfarsson, another of the farmers at Halldórsstaðir, says he even eats dinner in the sheep shed these days. Guðbjörn told reporters he’s not a fan of this time of year and looks forward to getting a good, long sleep when it’s all over.

Central Bank Raises Interest Rates by 1%

Central Bank

The Central Bank of Iceland’s key interest rate will be raised to 3.75%, rising ever-closer to pre-pandemic figures. The Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) announced a 1% interest rate hike this morning. The MPC says the economic outlook has deteriorated due to the impact of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

In March 2019, the Central Bank’s key interest rate stood at 4.5%. It was lowered repeatedly throughout the pandemic in efforts to bolster the economy and maintain stability on the housing market. Interest rates reached a historic low of 0.75% in November 2020, but the Central Bank has been steadily raising rates once more over the past year.

Moderate growth expected this year

Despite the worse outlook as compared to February’s forecast, the MPC says there are “signs of strong domestic economic activity” in Iceland, including a tightening labour market. GDP growth is forecast at 4.6% for the year 2022, and a growth rate of just under 3% in 2023 and 2024.

Inflation woes continue

Combating inflation continues to be a challenge, according to the MPC, which cites “house prices and other domestic cost items” as strong drivers of inflation, as well as global oil and commodity prices. Underlying inflation currently measures 5%, with inflation in the month of April measuring 7.2%. The Central Bank predicts that inflation will rise above 8% in the third quarter of this year.

The MPC expects interest rate hikes and “tighter borrower-based measures” to slow down house price inflation and domestic demand. The Committee states, however, that it is likely the monetary stance will have to be tightened even further in coming months to ease inflation. “Decisions taken at the corporate level, the labour market, and in public sector finances will be a major determinant of how high interest rates must rise,” the notice concludes.

Can you help me find a poem my tour guide recited about showering in Iceland’s swimming pools?

We’re very sorry to say we don’t know the poem you’re referring to. We are, however, very familiar with the showering protocols of Iceland’s public swimming pools.

At every swimming pool, you’ll see signs reminding you in several languages that you must shower – in the nude! with soap! – prior to putting on your swimsuit and jumping into the pool. The signs even include diagrams highlighting the body parts to focus on when lathering up: Hair, underarms, genitals/backside, and feet.

The reason is twofold. First, it’s just basic decency to wash yourself properly before stewing in hot water with other people. Secondly, the more everyone practices proper pool hygiene, the fewer chemicals are needed in the public swimming pools. It’s a win-win!

Icelanders have been going to the swimming pool on the regular since before they could walk. That means they’re very accustomed to being in the presence of bodies of all shapes and sizes. Nobody’s sizing anybody else up, they’re just focused on washing themselves so they can hit the hot tub.

If you’re less accustomed to communal shower situations, most public pools around the country have at least one private shower stall available.

We’re people pleasers here at Iceland Review, and since we couldn’t provide the poem your tour guide mentioned, we’ve whipped up this rhyme instead:

 

So you’re visiting Iceland and want to go swim?

Then there’s something important you must do with vim.

First find a locker and take it all off.

Doff your shirt, pants and undies; and let down your quaff.

Now on to the shower, to wash all your bits;

from your head to your toes, and don’t forget your armpits.

Pay no attention to others, it’s not about looking cool.

You’re just getting clean so you can jump in the pool.

Finally, pull on your suit – nudity be gone!

You’re clean and you’re dressed, so go get your swim on.