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Iceland Mag

Nature

Conservationists reject plans for hydropower plants in untouched Westfjords wilderness

By Staff

  • Hvalárfoss waterfall One of the waterfalls which would be affected by the planned power plant. Photo/Verkís-EV-National Planning Agency

Landvernd, The Icelandic Environment Association, the largest nature conservation NGO in Iceland, protests plans for a new hydropower plant in an abandoned fjord in the Strandir region on the north coast of the Westfjords peninsula. Instead Landvernd wants steps to be taken to expand the Strandir nature preserve and ultimately to turn the region into a National Park.

A power plant in an abandoned fjord
A local utility has submitted a request to build a small hydropower plant in Ófeigsfjörður fjord in the Strandir region on the north coast of the Westfjords peninsula. The fjord is currently only accessible by an abandoned dirt track. The nearest settlement is the tiny village of Norðurfjörður. The region is one of the most remote and sparsely populated in Iceland, known for its deserted fjords, breathtaking cliffs and mountains and abandoned farmsteads and herring factories.

Read more: Growing tourism threatens the value of the nature preserve of Hornstrandir in the Westfjords

In 1975 the north-westernmost tip of the Westfjords peninsula, the Hornstrandir region, was turned into a nature preserve. Landvernd wants this nature preserve to be expanded to include the uninhabited fjords to the south, including Ófeigsfjörður fjord.

Wilderness areas are more valuable untouched
The National Planning Agency, which performs environmental impact assessments, has found that the power plant would have significant negative impact on the untouched wilderness of the region. Landvernd argues that the significant negative environmental impact of the a power plant, and the necessary transmission lines to connect the plant to the power grid, cannot be justified. 

Landvernd argues that by protecting the untouched wilderness by including it in a new National Park which would Include the Hornstrandir Nature Preserve would also create far more jobs than a power plant.

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