A proposed power plant in Hvalá in Ófeigsfjörđur fjord has been under consideration for a long time. It is one of the most controversial proposed power plants in Phase 2 of the Master Plan for Hydro and Geothermal Energy Resources, because of how much unspoilt nature will be sacrificed in its construction. The proposed power plant should much rather have been placed in the awaiting further assessment category because there was a lack of sufficient information available when Phase 2 of the Master Plan was approved. In 2017 the National Planning Agency stated that the environmental impact of the proposed power plant was very unfavourable. A power plant would have a significant negative impact on lakes, waterfalls and the wilderness protected under the Nature Conservation Act.
Hvalá Power Plant
- Hvalá Power Plant
The Drangajökull area has an impressive landscape that is shaped by ice age glacials and very active geological processes. The area boasts waterfalls and fjords and colourful sediment and lava layers. The nature in the Drangajökull area is generally considered beautiful and very scenic. Furthermore, the area has many unusually distinct moraines.
In the Master Plan for Hydro and Geothermal Energy Resources there are two proposed power plants in the area: the Hvalá Power Plant on the Ófeigsfjarđarheiđi heath and the Austurgil Power Plant at Djúp. The Icelandic Institute of Natural History and others have stated that the main threat posed to the area is these proposed power plants and the exploitation of waterfalls associated with them. The Institute has proposed that the area be protected.
The Drangajökull area has magnificent landscapes, unique wilderness areas and untouched nature. There are a number of lakes, waterfalls and geological remains that must not be disturbed unless absolutely necessary, as well as one of Europe's largest wilderness areas that should be protected.
The area has been a popular outdoor area among Icelandic tourists, but the number of foreign tourists visiting the area has been on the increase as well.
There are considerable historical relics in the area, mainly related to fishing and farming, such as boats, landings, and sheep sheds. Numerous notable fossils/holes from logs have also been found in the area.
The National Planning Agency has stated that the impact of power plant construction in the area is clear. Construction will negatively affect waterfalls, lakes, geological remains and wilderness areas that are protected under the Nature Conservation Act. Furthermore, information on the effects on aquatic life and bird life is missing.
The Drangajökull area has a wide variety of wildlife, and the main species are harbour seals, grey seals, foxes and eiders, as well as numerous other nesting birds and salmonids such as char.
The Hvalá Power Plant is proposed to be located in the uninhabited wilderness of Strandir. The proposals involve exploiting the flow of rivers Hvalá, Rjúkandi and Eyvindarfjarđará in Ófeigsfjarđarheiđi heath.
The power plant proposals consist of 5 dams, 4 reservoirs, ditches, tunnels, a station building, road construction and transport of soil.
If the Hvalá Power Plant happens, it is clear that there will be irreversible damage caused to a unique area. The area is considered very valuable undisturbed, but the environmental impact of the Hvalá Power Plant is considered to be significantly negative. The benefits of protection are unequivocal in the long run.
According to the National Planning Agency, the Hvalá Power Plant does not pass its environmental impact assessment. Landvernd has put together a short video that shows what is included in the construction of the proposed power plant.
Landvernd and other nature conservation organizations have worked towards having the area affected by the Hvalá Power Plant protected.