Sep 12 2008

Gullfoss and Geysir Energy Resources?


Iceland Review – The Geysir hot spring area and Hvítá river, which forms Gullfoss waterfall— two of the biggest tourist attractions in Iceland— will be part of a new framework program on options for energy harnessing to be completed next year. According to the government resolution, the framework program based on 50 potential areas for harnessing energy should be completed by the end of 2009, but Minister of Industry Össur Skarphédinsson wants it to finish by July next year, Fréttabladid reports. The official purpose with the framework program on harnessing hydropower and geothermal energy is to create “professional prerequisites for decision-making on preservation and the harnessing of natural areas.”
“Although an option for energy harnessing is included in the framework program, it does not necessarily mean that it will be harnessed,” said project manager Svanfrídur Inga Jónasdóttir.
Jónasdóttir explained that when the project was launched in 1999 it was decided that every possibility would be registered, including Geysir, Hvítá and also Landmannalaugar, another popular tourist destination.
“This methodology is something that we have inherited from the first phase [of the project]. It can be disputed, but […] if you’re going to leave one option out, where are you going to stop?” Jónasdóttir asks.
“You first have to decide which options are desirable for [energy] harnessing and which are not,” Jónasdóttir said, adding that certain areas are “clearly sacred,” in her opinion.”

Schemes to dam Hvitá river and shut off Gullfoss for part of the year have been in discussion by Landsvirkjun for many years, despite the ‘sacred’ nature of this waterfall. The audacity of the Icelandic government to announce this plan (potentially a PR disaster), shows their utter confidence that the population is too apathetic and powerless to respond significantly to threats to their most precious national landmarks. Perhaps they feel that in this light the other energy projects will appear much more reasonable and become less contentious to the public.

Please help us stand up to the Icelandic government and power companies and protect some of the most valuable and beautiful nature in Europe against pure greed. Write letters and articles in Iceland or abroad, make protests and spread awareness before Iceland’s nature is lost forever.