The third phase of the Master Plan for Nature Maintenance and Energy Use passed Congress yesterday with 34 votes in favor and 7 votes against. Fifteen people abstained from voting. The Master Plan passed Congress a little less than a decade ago and is often proven to be fragmented as it mandates which rivers to develop and leave untouched for hydropower plants. .. Before the Master Plan passed Congress, the Environmental Communications Commission made some compromises that had been fiercely contested by conservationists and parliamentary minority parties.
Overview of rivers being developed for hydropower plants
The master plan contains a list of places where hydropower plants can theoretically rise, energy utilization categories of suitable places for power plant construction, and reservations for places that need further investigation and preparation. It is divided into three categories. They are suitable for places that are considered necessary for nature maintenance, and are protected categories.
Controversial options put on hold
Kjalöl duveita and Héraðsvötn have been moved from the protection category to hold, although a majority of the Environmental Communications Commission recently announced the results of their work and seemed to be trying to compromise and postpone decisions about controversial locations. Skrokkalda and the power plant will be moved from the energy utilization category to the pending category in the lower reaches of the Þjórs River.
Minorities and conservationists oppose, split within the majority party
A representative of the Icelandic Environment Association states that there is no new data to support moving these two locations to the pending category and that the changes are completely political. Three minority parties in parliament have proposed amendments to the bill to keep Héraðsvötn and Kjalöl duveita in the protected category instead of moving them to the pending category. The proposal was rejected with 33 votes against 21 votes. One member abstained and left-wing environmental movement member Bjarni Yonson voted. This is the only member of the majority. Bjarni, one of the Commission’s left-green movement representatives, refused to sign the Commission’s report because he opposed moving Héraðsvötn to the pending category.
Orri Páll Jóhannsson, another of the Commission’s two representatives of the Left-Green Movement, told RÚV: Power options in the pending category are re-evaluated. Regarding Héraðsvötn and Kjalöl duveita, Orri realized that the river has a great interest in nature maintenance, but it is controversial and needs further investigation. He argued that moving these locations to the pending category does not mean that they will be moved to the energy utilization category immediately, but absolutely not.
The postmaster’s plan, which passed parliament despite the opposition, first appeared in the Icelandic review.