Reykjavik airport future to be decided by public vote?

Both the Icelandic finance minister and the foreign minister have said they may be willing to support the interior minister’s idea of asking the public to decide the future of Reykjavik’s downtown domestic airport in a referendum.

Ogmundur Jonasson, Minister of the Interior, said on RUV radio on Tuesday that he feels Reykjavik domestic airport should not be moved away from Vatnsmyri. Its highly convenient current location is tempered by the noise and potential danger of having low flying planes over the heart of the capital city. There is also pressure on the high value land the airport takes up. The minister added, however, that people have strong opinions about the airport’s future throughout Icelandic society and that the matter should therefore go to a national referendum.

“How transportation is organised to and from Reykjavik is a big issue which is of great importance to everyone in the country; and at the same time it is of course also a planning matter here in Reykjavik,” Minister for Finance Steingrimur J. Sigfusson told Visir.is. When asked directly if the matter should go to a referendum, Sigfusson replied that he would absolutely not rule it out.

“This is one of many good ideas from the interior minister,” says Minister for Foreign Affairs Ossur Skarphedinsson. “We are both advocates of democracy and I often communicate with people who want to increase the people’s right to decide big issues in referendums. Therefore I find this idea worthwhile in more ways than one.”

The current plan is to build a new and improved terminal at the present-day airport in the coming years; but the discussion has been long and heated and the plan could yet change.

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