The Iceland Nature Conservation Association, one of the main Icelandic environmental NGOs, has hit out at proposed changes to Iceland's environmental impact assessment (EIA) Act, which was recently sent out to various groups and institutions for comments. It has said that it will take the case to the Environmental Court of Justice in 2006, on the basis that it contravenes the Arhus Convention on participation of the public in environmental decisions - which Iceland expects to ratify in 2006 - if radical changes are not made to the proposals or the proposals withdrawn. A spokesperson for the NGO, Hilmar Malmquist, says that the changes constitute completely different working practice and that the EIA process will henceforth be a pro forma process. However, the Environment Minister, Siv Friðleifsdóttir, denies that the changes contravene the Arhus Convention and says that the proposals are designed to bring the Icelandic law more in line with what is practised in EU countries.
Four main changes to the EIA Act are being touted. First, the Planning and Environment Agency which currently oversees the whole EIA process will be given less power.