"This is a huge victory for conservation, far beyond Iceland", said Arni Finnsson, Chairman of Iceland's Nature Conservation Association (INCA), WWF's partner organization in Iceland.
"The 1 August ruling can still be overturned by the environmental minister, if a formal request is submitted within four weeks", Finnsson warns.
However, it would be next to impossible for the minister to do so, given the overwhelming evidence in favour of the ruling. "This should put the final nail in the coffin of NPC's argument that 'the environmental impact is acceptable in the light of the project's economic gain,' once and for all", said Finnsson.
The Karahnukar project in eastern Iceland was one of the largest dam projects ever planned in Europe. It would have dammed up two of the three main rivers from Europe's largest glacier, the Vatnajoekul, and destroyed the surrounding vast wilderness areas.
Now it will go into history as the second large hydropower project in Iceland to be stopped by conservation pressure. Last year, environmental groups successfully fought plans for a related hydropower project that would have flooded the Eyjabakkar wetlands, one of northern Europe's largest untouched wilderness areas.
As an alternative path for developing eastern Iceland, INCA/WWF have struggled to get the area protected and given status as a national park.
"We now have a golden opportunity to bring the national park issue further. Such a park will not only strengthen the protection of wilderness areas, but also the local tourism industry. It will boost the image of Iceland as a natural wonder and create more value for the Icelandic people than the dam project ever could", said Peter Prokosch, Director of WWF's International Arctic Programme.
For further information, contact:
Arni Finnson, Chairman of Iceland Nature Conservation Association (INCA): Tel (mobile): +354 897 2437. Phone/fax: +354 551 2279.
Dr Peter Prokosch, Director of WWF's International Arctic Programme: Tel: +47 22 03 6518. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org