Minister of the Interior Ögmundur Jónasson requested in a letter to director of the Icelandic Road Administration Hreinn Haraldsson and Mayor of Garðabær Gunnar Einarsson that the conditions for constructing a new road to Álftanes through the lava field Gálgahraun be reconsidered.
Hreinn told Fréttablaðið that the minister’s request will be obliged and that an agreement on the project will not be signed until it has been reviewed.
The reason for the minister’s intervention is harsh protests from environmentalists and others against the road across Gálgahraun due to destruction of natural and cultural relics.
The interest group Hraunavinir (‘Lava Friends’), who apart from wanting to protect the lava field for environmental reasons, argue that the habitat of hidden beings are at risk, fearing the wrath of dwarves, celebrated the minister’s decision, according to ruv.is.
Alþingi, the Icelandic parliament, approved the new Álftanes road in its most recent transport plan in which the road construction was scheduled for 2012-2014.
The location of the new road has been legally determined in compliance with the general land use plan of Garðabær municipality. Tenders have been made for the project but for various reasons, operations have been delayed.
It has been pointed out in the media that the new road lies in the Southwest Constituency (aka Kraginn, which includes the capital’s neighboring towns) where Ögmundur is running for a seat in parliament. According to recent polls, he is at risk of losing that seat.
In Morgunblaðið it is maintained that the timing of the minister’s decision to have the road project reviewed, one week before the election, is no coincidence but he denies that it is part of his campaign.