The Supreme Court of Iceland ruled yesterday that Minister for the Environment Svandís Svavarsdóttir’s refusal to confirm the master land use plan of two municipalities, Flóahreppur and Skeida- og Gnúpverjahreppur, for the Urridafoss hydropower plant over one year ago was illegal.
With her refusal, the minister halted the construction of three power plants in the lower Thjórsá river, named after Urridafoss, Holt and Hvammur, which were fully designed and ready for tenders, visir.is reports.
The minister rejected the master plans on the basis that Landsvirkjun, the national power company, had covered the expenses for the municipalities’ planning work.
The local authorities in Flóahreppur did not accept the minister’s decision regarding the Urridafoss plant and considered it to be politically motivated and unprofessional.
Flóahreppur won the case in the District Court last fall and now the Supreme Court has confirmed the verdict. Five Supreme Court judges were unanimous in their decision.
Óskar Sigurdsson, the lawyer representing Flóahreppur, said the Supreme Court’s verdict is an indictment on the minister’s work methods. “I assume the minister will confirm the master plan in the coming days,” he added.
CEO of Landsvirkjun Hördur Arnarson said Svavarsdóttir’s dismissal of the plan last year forced the company to delay negotiations with a number of foreign companies who had requested energy purchase, stating that her decision had stalled economic developments by one or two years.
Click here to read more about the minister’s decision.