Temporary Licence for Hvalur Whaling Company Extended

whale Iceland hvalur

On Wednesday, the West Iceland Healthcare Committee (i.e. Heilbrigðisnefnd Vesturlands) agreed to renew the temporary operating licence of the whaling company Hvalur until July 12 at the latest. The extension was granted on the basis of the principle of proportionality.

Temporary licence initially granted until May 1, 2023

On June 3 2022, the whaling company Hvalur hf. – the only whaling company still operating in Iceland – applied for a new operating licence from the West Iceland Healthcare Committee (i.e. Heilbrigðisnefnd Vesturlands). At the same time, Hvalur also applied for a temporary extension, which the committee granted until May 1, 2023, while the permanent licence was being processed.

A proposal for Hvalur’s renewed operational licence was advertised on the Healthcare Committee’s website on May 12, 2023, with the deadline for comments expiring on June 9 (those comments are still being reviewed.)

As the permanent licence had not been approved, Kristján Loftsson, CEO of Hvalur, asked the West Iceland Healthcare Committee to extend the company’s temporary operating licence, and the application was discussed at meetings on Monday and Wednesday this week.

The meeting minutes note that, according to the law, the committee is permitted to extend the validity period of an operating licence while a new one is being processed for up to one year. Last year, the committee extended Hvalur’s temporary licence until May 1, 2023, or for nine months, as the committee assumed that Hvalur’s application for a new licence had been processed by that time.

“During the processing period, the Health Inspectorate made demands on various improvements relating to the current operating licence, especially as regards pollution prevention. According to the information that the committee has received, Hvalur has worked to remedy these deficiencies, with improvements being either completed or at an advanced stage.”

According to the information the committee had received, Hvalur aimed to conclude these improvements on June 19. The committee has thus decided to extend Hvalur’s temporary operating licence:

“With reference to the proportionality principle of the administrative law, the committee believes that the conditions exist to extend Hvalur’s operating licence temporarily, until the time a new licence has been issued, although never longer than until July 12, 2023, when the statutory maximum extension is reached.”

As reported earlier this week, the Ministry of the Environment plans to dismiss Hvalur’s request for an exemption from an operating licence, as the West Iceland Healthcare Committee already had the licence under consideration. As noted by Vísir, it is clear that if permission is not obtained, the whaling season would be delayed; it usually starts in mid-June.









State to Subsidise Rental EVs with ISK 1 Billion

Minister Guðlaugur Þór Þórðarsson.

In further efforts to meet its commitments to reduce CO2 emissions, the state will support car rental companies this year with some ISK 1 billion [$7.2 million, €6.7 million] in subsidies to accelerate the electrification of their fleets.

Minister of Environment, Energy, and Climate Guðlaugur Þór Þórðarson stated recently that Iceland’s tourism industry must also play a role in the energy transition. This includes not just the electrification of the rental fleet, but also an expansion of charging stations at hotels and guesthouses throughout the nation.

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The matter was discussed at a cabinet meeting last Friday, March 17.

Minister Guðlaugur stated: “We will be supporting the car rentals to acquire electric cars. This is extremely important in order for us to achieve the energy transition,  as car rentals are naturally a large part of the national car fleet. And if we are going to reach our goals for electric vehicles, then car rentals have to be included. And it’s by including the car rentals, that we will be able to reach our goals much sooner.”

Read more: Public Transport Funding

According to the Minister, the higher average cost of electric vehicles has until now been a barrier to these companies from buying more of them. The subsidies will be structured like the subsidies already available to individuals, which remove VAT up to a certain limit on EVs.

In his statement on the EV subsidies, the Minister also highlighted the lack of charging stations across Iceland as a bottleneck.

“It is likewise very important that hotels and guesthouses cooperate, for this to be a viable option […] And in order for us to prevent ‘charging anxiety’ and for this to be as efficient as possible, people must be able to charge at night,” Guðlaugur said.