Iceland Mag

10 Reykjavik

Iceland Mag

Travel

Police stops collection of illegal parking fees at Hraunfossar, again

By Staff

  • Hraunfossar The parking lot overlooking the spectacular site has become the site of one of the strangest legal arguments in Iceland. Photo/Vilhelm

Police in West Iceland has stopped the collection of illegal parking fees by a couple of local "businessmen" at Hraunfossar waterfalls. The local news site Vísir reports that the Police arrived at the scene yesterday after the Icelandic Road and Coastal Authority demanded that the men stop impeding traffic on the road and cease the collection of fees for the use of a public roadway.

This is the second time police has to intervene at the site to stop the collection of illegal fees. In October 2017 Police stopped the same individuals from collecting illegal parking fees at Hraunfossar waterfalls. All relevant authorities have stated that the men do not have a legal right to collect the fees, and that their activities are in clear violation of the law. The men's lawyer rejected these arguments in an interview with the local newspaper Morgunblaðið, claiming the Police had no legal .

Read our full coverage of the conflict as it unfolded last year:

Read more: Police has stopped the collection of illegal parking fees at Hraunfossar waterfalls

On Tuesday investors who have rented land overlooking Hraunfossar waterfall started stopping cars on the road leading to the parking lot, charging them a 1,000 ISK fee for using the parking lot. The men have rented the land which covers 90% of the parking lot. The other 10% belongs to a restaurant/café. The operators of the restaurant have opposed the parking fee. Moreover, the parking lot and the road leading to it are under the jurisdiction of the Icelandic Road and Coastal Authority, which is also responsible for the maintenance of the parking lot.

The IRCA asked the Police in West Iceland to stop the collection of the parking fees, pointing out that it is illegal for private individuals to impede traffic on a public roadway or to charge for their use. The Icelandic Environment Agency, which is responsible for Hraunfossar waterfalls, has also rejected the fee. No fees can be imposed by landowners at protected natural sites without the permission of the Environment Agency.

Read more: Illegal entry fees again imposed at Hraunfossar: Visitors "robbed in broad daylight"

Last year the investors charged visitors 1,500 ISK for using the parking lot. The fee has now been dropped to 1,000 ISK. The parking voucher now also doubles as a coupon for a "free cup of coffee" at a road stop operated. One of the the "businessmen" operates the rest stop Baulan on the Ring Road in West Iceland.

What should you do?
We at Iceland Magazine would like to stress that the parking fees at Hraunfossar are the ONLY entrance or parking fees at tourist sites in Iceland which are open to legal challenge. All other fees are levied legally by landowners or the relevant public authorities. However, the illegality and shamelessness of the Hraunfossar fees is a stain on the Icelandic tourism industry.

In case the "businessmen" start collecting the fees again visitors should of course feel free to pay the illegal fees, but remember that their collection does not have the power of law. It is illegal to impede travel on a public roadway, and the parking lot at Hraunfossar is maintained not by the landowners but by taxpayers through the national road authority.

We would therefore like to echo the instructions of Hraunfossar restaurant which has advised its customers to ignore the fees. If you are looking for a cup of coffee in West Iceland you should stop at the Hraunfossar café, and decline the coffee coupon for Baulan. 

Related content

Editor's Picks