Environmental Impact Assessment in the Arctic

Environmental Impact Assessment in the Arctic

A Guide to Best Practice

Timo Koivurova, Pamela Lesser, Sonja Bickford, Paula Kankaanpää and Marina Nenasheva

Significant growth in economic activity in the Arctic has added weight to the argument that projects must be developed responsibly and sustainably. Addressing growing concerns regarding the exploitation of the Arctic’s natural resources, this timely book presents and evaluates examples of best practice in Arctic environmental impact assessment.

Chapter 8: Iceland

Timo Koivurova, Pamela Lesser, Sonja Bickford, Paula Kankaanpää and Marina Nenasheva

Subjects: environment, corporate social responsibility, energy policy and regulation, environmental governance and regulation, environmental law, law - academic, environmental law


The first Environmental Act in Iceland was passed in 1994. Since Iceland signed the European Economic Area (EEA) agreement in 1994, however, it has been obligated to incorporate the European Union’s Environmental Impact Assessment Directive (EIA Directive) into the Icelandic legal system. Directive 2011/97/EU on EIA has thus been implemented through the EEA Agreement by Act No 106/2000 on EIA, which has been amended three times – in 2000, 2005 and then in 2014 (EIA Act 2000). In conjunction with the Act, EIA in Iceland is also carried out in conformance with the Regulations on Environmental Impact Assessment No. 1123/2005 (Regulations 2005). The original Environmental Act passed in 1994 gave the National Planning Agency (NPA), the designated competent authority under the EIA, the decision-making authority as to whether a project should proceed or not. The decision could then be appealed to the Minister for the Environment. In 2005 there were changes to the Act and now the NPA’s role is not to approve or disapprove a project, but to issue an opinion on its environmental impacts and advise the Minister for the Environment who will issue the decision. Other than this change, the NPA retained the rest of its mandate, including overseeing the EIA process, providing guidelines, determining if a project is subject to EIA, and giving an opinion on the environmental impacts of projects.

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