Owners of the land where the currently active Fagradalsfjall eruption site is located have stated that the estate or parts of it are available for the right price. Landowners state they have received interest and offers on the land but Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir claims that new owners limiting public access to the eruption site is “out of the question.
The eruption site is situated on the Hraun estate east of Grindavík, which is owned by 20 individuals. After the eruption started, interested buyers have contacted the owners with the intent of buying the land, including the eruption site, Hraun landowners association representative Sigurður Guðjón Gíslason told Stöð 2. “This must be the hottest piece of land in Iceland right now,” he added.
Sigurður stated that they had received 2-3 offers but declined to mention the amounts offered for the land.
While interested buyers might intend to profit off of tourism centred on the eruption, Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir, in an interview with RÚV, stated that it’s out of the question that private parties can shut off the public’s access to the eruption site. The government is funding infrastructure construction in the area and a prerequisite for that funding is continued public’s access to the area.
Work on tourism facilities at the eruption site has already begun as it’s currently Iceland’s foremost tourist attraction for both domestic as well as foreign tourists. According to numbers from Visit Iceland, people have hiked up to the eruption site approximately 87,000 times since counting began, which was five days after the eruption started. Landowners have participated in that work, taking part in a workgroup that recently issued a report to the Minister of Tourism. The memo described their plans for the area, which include building a kiosk that would sell refreshments and merchandise, improving parking, and issuing operating licenses for tour operators. The authorities will in turn fund infrastructure construction through the Tourist Site Protection Fund.
Katrín stated that the government had not discussed making a bid for the land, instead focusing on ensuring that the public has access to the eruption site. “That’s the prerequisite for everything that we’re doing. The government is funding certain infrastructure construction and access, in order for the public to be able to visit the site.” When asked if new owners could limit public access to the eruption site, Katrín firmly stated: “That’s out of the question.”