Minister of Environment Thórunn Sveinbjarnardóttir has confirmed the decision of the Icelandic National Planning Agency from October 4, 2007, that the planned smelter in Helguvík on Reykjanes peninsula will not have to undergo further assessment.
“I’m going to say in all honesty that although this ruling was made according to law it does not mean that it is to the liking of the Minister of Environment,” Sveinbjarnardóttir said in a press conference yesterday, Morgunbladid reports.
Sveinbjarnardóttir added that on Tuesday she had announced to her colleagues that she planned to submit a bill on amendments to the 5th article of the laws on environmental impact assessments, so that future assessments would have to include all operations in relation to the establishment of aluminum smelters.
The Icelandic National Planning Agency concluded that a joint environmental impact assessment for the aluminum smelter and related operations would not be necessary, which would include assessments of the establishment of high-voltage transmission lines, constructions in the harbor and construction of power plants.
Landvernd, the Icelandic Environment Association, a non-governmental organization, sent a complaint in regards to the planning agency’s decision to the Ministry of Environment on October 11, 2007.
Managing director of Landvernd Bergur Sigurdsson said the minister’s decision did not rule out that a joint environmental impact assessment for all operations surrounding the smelter in Helguvík would take place. “We will fight for it,” he said.
CEO of Century Aluminum (Nordurál) Ragnar Gudmundsson said he had expected Sveinbjarnardóttir to rule against Landvernd’s demands.