‘This untouched nature needs to be spared’
Thirty landowners from the municipality of Árneshreppur have issued a joint statement protesting three planned hydropower plants which are to be located in the remote Strandir region, RÚV reports. The group says the development will do damage to the area around the Drangajökull glacier.
The landowners’ statement was delivered to the Árneshreppur municipal council, which recently issued a preliminary construction permit that allows for road construction at and around the site of one of the three intended plants, Hvalárvirkjun, as well as the building of a bridge over the Hvalá river, worker’s facilities, and a sewage system, as well as geological surveys around the site. The letter was also sent to the Minister of Industries and Innovation, Þórdís Kolbrún R. Gylfadóttir, the Minister for the Environment and Natural Resources, Guðmundur Ingi Guðbrandsson, and the chairs and vice-chairs of all the parties in parliament.
This is not the first protest that has been issued regarding power plant development in the region. Earlier this week, four nature conservation associations brought charges against the development permit the municipal government of Árneshreppur issued for the first phase of the Hvalárvirkjun power plant in the Westfjords. For one thing, they say, issuing a permit for this first phase of construction, ostensibly for research purposes, is an illegal way to go about obtaining a permit for the entirety of the project. The associations also take great issue with the environmental damage that they say the project will have on the surrounding area.
An “attack on the nature of Strandir”
“We the undersigned owners of properties in Árneshreppur object because the area surrounding the Drangajökull glacier will be permanently disturbed by the hydroelectric power plants…” reads the landowners’ statement.
“Along the rivers that are intended to be harnessed—the Rjúkandi, Hvalá, and Eyvindarfjarðará—there are numerous waterfalls large and small and on the health to the south of Drangajökull there are brilliant blue mountain lakes that few people have ever seen. This untouched nature needs to be spared, as do the wildernesses that form one continuous and delicate ecosystem. There will be no way to reclaim this unspoiled wilderness once it is damaged by the three hydropower stations that HS Orka and Landsvirkjun are planning for the area (Hvalárvirkjun and Skúfnavatnavirkjun, as well as Austurgilsvirkjun). We declare that we will spare no effort in halting this attack on the nature of Strandir…”
Development plants ‘anachronistic in today’s society’
“These grandiose power plant ideas are entirely anachronistic in today’s society,” the letter continues, noting that the protection of unspoiled natural areas is an increasing priority in Iceland. The landowners also contend that the power plant would do nothing to increase electricity security for Westfjord residents themselves: “The electricity will be sold to the highest bidder in the south, most likely to data centres that mine for digital currency, such as Bitcoin.”
The letter concludes by urging the addressees to “listen to those who are nearest to this danger and who want to think of the future.”