Prime Minister Jóhanna Sigurdardóttir said during a Social Democrat caucus in Reykjanesbaer municipality last weekend that hindrances regarding the so-called Southwest Line in relation to the Century Aluminum Helguvík smelter project will be pushed aside.
Prime Minister Jóhanna Sigurdardóttir. Photo by Geir Ólafsson.
Minister of the Environment Svandís Svavarsdóttir told Morgunbladid that she interprets the PM’s words as a request that she doesn’t annul the decision of the Icelandic National Planning Agency that a universal environmental impact assessment isn’t necessary, as she has already done once.
Sigurdardóttir said during the caucus that she expects construction of the smelter to resume at full speed next spring along with construction of the Búdarhálsvirkjun power plant.
Svavarsdóttir said she was surprised by Sigurdardóttir’s comment as the Southwest Line hasn’t been discussed within the cabinet since she annulled the Planning Agency’s previous decision.
Mayor of Reykjanesbaer, Árni Sigfússon, celebrates the PM’s declaration. “It is pleasing that she has information from her camp that this project won’t be subject to further delays,” he said. “The Southwest Line is of course the condition for transferring energy to the projects that we are developing here.”
It is expected that the Nature Protection Association of Iceland will file an administrative charge because of the Planning Agency’s decision. The deadline to file a charge is December 4.
The association’s chairman, Árni Finnsson, said the PM must explain where the energy for the Helguvík smelter is supposed to come from.
CEO of Iceland Geosurvey Ólafur G. Flóvenz has stated that sufficient energy cannot be provided for a smelter of the size Century Aluminum is planning to construct in Helguvík in the next few years.
Sigfússon said in response: “It is Century Aluminum’s decision whether they want to construct a smelter without knowing beforehand whether they can obtain the necessary energy.”
Click here to read more about the planned smelter in Helguvík.