The planned hydro power plant at Fljótsdalur on Iceland’s east coast has been shelved according to Thorsteinn Hilmarsson, head of corporate communications at Landsvirkjun. ‘The plant will never be built, least of all if the Kárahnjúkar project goes ahead since water from Fljótsdalur will be used in the second phase of that project,’ said Hilmarsson.

Conservationists describe Fljótsdalur as a unique and vulnerable area of natural beauty. ‘The main environmental issue with the Fljótsdalur project,’ said Hilmarsson, ‘was that land used as moulting grounds for two to four weeks each summer by pink footed geese would have been inundated. This will not happen in connection with the Kárahnjúkar project since there will not be a reservoir in the disputed area – it will be left untouched,’ he said.

Norsk Hydro planned to construct an aluminium smelter in association with the Fljótsdalur hydro power plant, but the Norwegian company has encountered fierce protests from environmentalists in both Norway and Iceland. The Society for the Conservation warned that the Fljótsdalur hydro project would only go ahead if Norsk Hydro intended to build the aluminium smelter

Power from the planned 680-750MW Kárahnjúkar project, set to become the biggest hydro plant in Iceland and one of the largest in Europe, is also intended for use by the aluminium smelter. But Hilmarsson reassured IWP&DC that the environmental impact assessment of the Kárahnjúkar hydro project is independent of the aluminium project. ‘Our research and planning is still valid should the plans for the smelter fall through, and we would intend to develop the hydro project for other prospective buyers,’ he said.
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