Conservationist Protesters Arrested

21.10.2013
Words by Paul Fontaine
A group of protesters, hoping to stop planned road construction through a protected lava field, were arrested by police today. A law professor believes that arrest was premature.

As reported last month, the controversy surrounds the lava fields of Gálgahraun, which is located on the Álftanes peninsula. Although the fields were officially protected in 2009, construction of a new road - Álftanesvegar - was green-lit earlier this month, and will in part go through Gálgahraun.

This has sparked protests that have taken the form of direct action, as protesters put themselves between the lava fields and construction equipment, stopping development before it could begin.

Today, Vísir reports, police officers moved in on the protesters, arresting them, carrying some of them physically away from the site of construction.

Among those arrested was noted journalist and environmentalist Ómar Ragnarsson, as can be seen in this video.

Law professor Sigurður Líndal told Vísir that he believes no arrests should have happened before a court of law has decided whether or not building a road through a protected lava field is even legal.

"It is completely natural that [authorities] wait for a court decision first," district court lawyer Katrín Oddsdóttir said. "I admire people who stand up for this. People should be able to submit such matters before a court of law to have confirmed whether operations that threaten nature are legal."

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