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Feb 15 2011
A decision by Svandís Svavarsdóttir, Minister of Environment, to reject the construction of a dam in Urriðafoss waterfall in Þjórsá river, has been ruled illegal by Iceland’s supreme court. Whilst Svavardóttir and her comrades in government accept the ruling, and say the Minstry of Environment now has to look into the case and examine the legal environment, the right wing opposition in parliament, along with heavy industry lobbyists, demand the ministers’ resignation, claiming that she has delayed all construction in the area for two years. People living by Þjórsá have announced that these statements are wrong and ask for examples, while a MP accuses Landsvirkjun (the national energy company) of bribery. Read More
Feb 11 2011
The recent spate of articles about the police spy Mark Kennedy that have appeared in the Guardian and elsewhere have greatly exaggerated the minor role of Kennedy in the Icelandic environmental movement to the point of claiming that he was a key figure pivotal in founding the movement. This may serve the immediate purpose of dramatizing the Kennedy saga but is in fact nonsense. Several weeks ago Saving Iceland sent detailed clarifications to the Guardian regarding the inaccuracies published in the paper. However, the Guardian has thus far not corrected their reporting, apart from a limited disclaimer in Amelia Hill’s article ‘Mark Kennedy played key role in forming green movement in Iceland’ where Hill states that “Saving Iceland […] disputes the level of Kennedy’s involvement.”
In other articles that are concerned with Mark Kennedy’s involvement with British groups the Guardian several times quotes British activists in saying that Kennedy did not act as a strategist or decision maker in their movement, but that he made him himself useful as a driver and an energetic facilitator in day to day logistics. One source is reported by the Guardian in even going so far to say that Kennedy was not considered the sharpest knife in the box. This would make the Guardians’ claims about his supposed vital role in Saving Iceland surprising to say the least. Read More
Feb 06 2011
Alcoa still plans to build an aluminium smelter in Bakki by Húsavík, north-Iceland, according to the newspaper Fréttablaðið. This contradicts recent news, published in the business newspaper Viðskiptablaðið, saying that Alcoa was about to withdraw the idea due to the government’s alleged unwillingness to go ahead with it. Questions about energy to run the smelter are still unanswered but recent comments from the National Planning Agency, concerning the project’s joint Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), state that enough geothermal energy can not be produced for the smelter; and certainly not in a sustainable way. Read More
Jan 31 2011
Century Aluminum (Nordural) intends to build an aluminium smelter at Helguvík for producing 250.000 tpy, using 435 MW of electricity. At one point the intended size grew to 600.000 tpy and 625 MW of electricity but those plans have been cancelled. The first phase of the smelter was expected to start in 2010 and the 250.000 ton should be reached in 2013. Now there are already some big structures at the smelter site but no energy has been produced and moreover, there is no energy available.
Sigmundur Einarsson, a geologist at the Icelandic Institute of Natural History, has written some articles on this matter (in Icelandic). He has tried, amongst a number of other environmental scientists, to warn the Icelandic government about a new kind of collapse, an energy collapse due to following far too optimistic speculation of irresponsible people. Read More
Jan 29 2011
After 13 years of continuous battle, the people’s movements to save the Niyamgiri hills from bauxite mining have won their land and livelihood back from the jaws of extinction. Niyamgiri is one of a series of threatened bauxite capped mountains in Orissa. On August 21st 2010 a review of the Vedanta mining project carried out by the Ministry of the Environment exposed the company’s “total contempt for the law”, having violated a number of environmental regulations, and revealed “an appalling degree of collusion” by local government officials with Vedanta. A few days later Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh called a halt to the project. Read More
Jan 28 2011
Magnús Sveinn Helgason
The Reykjavík Grapevine
While history—meaning: ‘the past’—does not change, history—meaning: ‘the narration of past events’—does in fact change. This is because we view history through the lens of the present. As events unfold, the meaning and significance of the past changes. And because our view of the past changes we constantly need to change our history textbooks.
So, it is pretty hard to predict how any event, let alone a whole decade, will be remembered. Because we do not know what the future holds, or what academic fads will reign among future historians, it is exceedingly difficult to say with any certainty how future historians will judge this first decade of the 21st century. Still, even if we lack the necessary hindsight of history, we can make some pretty good educated guesses. Read More
Nine protesters on trial for entering the Iceland parliament may be jailed despite a lack of evidence against them
Nine people went on trial in Iceland last week, charged with threatening the country’s parliament – a charge that has only been used once before and that carries a maximum life sentence. They were among 30 demonstrators who entered the parliament building via the visitors’ door during a small protest in December 2008 at a time when thousands of Icelanders took to the streets to express their outrage at the government’s part in the financial crisis. Read More
Jan 25 2011
Landsvirkjun, the national power company, will not use the permit for experimental drilling in the Gjástykki area in northeast Iceland issued by the National Energy Authority on Monday but rather await the government’s plan for the area.
Gjástykki is a rift valley north of the caldera Krafla and the potential harnessing of energy there is controversial. Environmentalist Ómar Ragnarsson is making a documentary about the area. To paper over their highly destructive drills in other geothermal areas in north Iceland the Landsvirkjun PR department helped finance the documentary.
According to Fréttabladid, the Energy Authority’s permit does not authorize Landsvirkjun to harness geothermal energy in the area, only to investigate its feasibility. Read More
Jan 24 2011
According to sources close to the business newspaper Viðskiptablaðið, Alcoa has lost all patience with the situation in Húsavík and will drop plans to build a proposed aluminium smelter in the region.
The project has been fraught with obstacles since its inception. Most notably, Minister for the Environment Svandís Svavarsdóttir has been an outspoken opponent of the plan. A damning assessment from the Icelandic National Planning Agency concluded that the proposed smelter would also have a “significant negative impact” on the environment not just of the surrounding area, but on Iceland as a whole. A few days ago Landsvirkjun, Iceland’s National Energy company, announced that they would neither fight for or against the protection of the area and that they will not perform “test” drills in Gjástykki (a globally unique geothermal area in the north of Iceland with ravines, faults, lava fields and volcanic craters) until the government had completed the process of protecting the area, even if they had got a go a head to do so by the National Energy Authority. Read More
Jan 20 2011
“The trial of the ‘Reykjavik 9’ is an attempt to criminalise retroactively Iceland’s democratic protests in 2008 and thus depoliticise them. The defendants include Solveig Jonsdottir, the leader of Attac,” said Andrej Hunko, Member of the German Bundestag, regarding the trial of the nine Icelandic activists. “The charges are based on the accusation of an ‘offence against Parliament’. This can mean up to life imprisonment, and carries a minimum sentence of one year’s imprisonment,” explained Mr Hunko, a member of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe.
It was the determined mass protests in December 2008, known as the “saucepan revolution”, which finally forced the resignation of the conservative government, which was embroiled in the banking scandal. Two days before the blockade of Parliament at the heart of the current trial, 15-year-old Alexis Grigoropoulos was shot dead by the police in Greece. Across Europe, social movements had taken to the streets. Read More