"Adventurers" seeking untouched beauty of highlands leave destruction, incur hatred of locals
Landowners at Hraunfossar waterfalls in West Iceland have postponed the introduction of parking fees at the waterfalls after the Icelandic Environment Agency ruled the fees are illegal. Despite the ruling the landowners continue to believe they have the right to impose the parking fees.
The planned parking fees, which would have gone into effect on Saturday, were intended to pay for improvements to the parking lot and other facilities at the waterfalls. The Icelandic Road and Coastal Authority (IRCA), the Icelandic Environment Agency (IEA) and a restaurant at the site had all come out in opposition to the fees, the IEA arguing the landowners did not have the legal authority to impose parking fees.
Imposed fees after turning down government grant to improve parking lot
A spokesman for the landowners told the Icelandic National Broadcasting Service RÚV that they would push forward with their plans after the “legal uncertainty” had been resolved:
“The decision was made because the parking lot is in extremely poor condition, and the area around it as well. The area has seen a dramatic increase in the number of travellers who come to view the waterfalls. There are no trash cans at the parking lot, for example, so the trash just piles up, and the parking spots are poorly marked, which causes a safety hazard. So we decided something had to be done: The site is a complete mess.”
A government fund which finances investments in tourism infrastructure had given a grant to improve the parking lot, but the landowners turned this grant down. “We intend to have those who visit the site pay for its maintenance,” the spokesman for the landowners told RÚV.
The landowners and the IEA will be meeting this week to find a solution to the dispute, the local news site Vísir reports.
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