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The Environmental Impact assessment (EIA) outlines three proposals for the demarcation of the wind farm and the impact of each proposal on certain environmental aspects is assessed. There is no specific discussion on a “no action” option that would represent the environmental impact of not constructing the Búrfell Wind Farm. If the wind farm is not constructed, the area will continue to develop as a result of natural changes.

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The results of the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA)

The results show that the development and operation of wind turbines will have a positive impact on the municipalities within the area, as employment opportunities will be created and revenue to the municipalities will increase. The results also show that the main negative environmental impact of the proposed Búrfell Wind Farm will be the visual impact on the physical landscape. These effects are directly connected to the landscape, the local community, the tourism industry and tourists. The impact on noise levels and effects on geological formations, vegetation and birdlife are considered to be insignificant.

Experiences from elsewhere in the world have shown that opportunities in recreation and the tourism industry are often created parallel to wind farm development. Examples of this include ventures in Norway, Smøla, Ytre Vikna and Bessakerfjellet, California, and Scotland where they have successfully stimulated tourism and recreation alongside wind energy. The areas surrounding the wind farms were kept open with cycling paths, footpaths, bicycle rentals, accommodation and visitor centres located throughout the areas. Improved access for anglers was an additional benefit to the tourism and recreation communities. The Whitelee Wind Farm located close to Glasgow has seen particularly great success. The wind farm has 215 wind turbines with an installed capacity of 539 MW. There are over 130 km of footpaths, cycling paths and riding paths within the area as well as a visitor centre with an exhibition, educational area and restaurant. According to the operators, the visitor centre has received 450,000 visitors since 2009.

Based off of proven examples mentioned above, Landsvirkjun believes that the Búrfell Wind Farm can certainly be developed alongside the tourism industry within the area.

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Summary of environmental impact - society

Shadow flicker

The effects of shadow flicker from the wind turbines at the Búrfell Wind Farm are insignificant.

Visual impact

The visual impact of wind turbines are directly negative, but they are also reversible since wind turbines can be dismantled after they are decommissioned. During their lifecycle, wind turbines are typically prominent from a distance up to 5 km, although exceptions to this rule exist. The Búrfell Wind Farm will be prominent from a distance of approximately 5 - 10 km in certain areas, but there will also be large areas at that distance where the turbines cannot be seen. There are only few areas where the wind turbines are prominent from a distance of 10 - 25 km, and the number of wind turbines that are visible within that belt is less than the number of turbines visible from closer distances. The wind turbines can obviously be seen from hilly and mountainous areas in all three proposals within the zone of visibility. Visual impact within the affected area will vary. The impact will increase from ‘none’ in some areas and up to a ‘significant negative impact’ in areas in close proximity to the wind farm.

Proposal 1


Significantly negative impact 0 – 5 km distance.


Considerably negative impact 5 – 10 km distance.


Somewhat negative impact 10 – 25 km distance.


Insignificant impact 25 km distance.

Proposal 2


Significantly negative impact 0 – 5 km distance.


Considerably negative impact 5 – 10 km distance.


Somewhat negative impact 10 – 25 km distance.


Insignificant impact 25 km distance.

Proposal 3


Significantly negative impact 0 – 5 km distance.


Considerably negative impact 5 – 10 km distance.


Somewhat negative impact 10 – 25 km distance.


Insignificant impact 25 km distance.

Noise impact

Noise impacts are within the set limits outlined by noise regulation. The effects are considered insignificant in all three proposals. Landsvirkjun will monitor noise levels during the operational period of the wind turbines to better understand the effects of wind farm operations.

Municipalities

The development of the Búrfell Wind Farm could have a directly positive impact on the municipalities as employment opportunities increase during the construction period and revenue increases during the operational period.

Tourism industry

The effects on residents and the tourism industry are considered to be somewhat negative according to assessments carried out by those respective groups. The results of an opinion survey showed that local residents had mixed feelings toward the Búrfell Wind Farm. The visual impact of the wind turbines was the greatest cause for concern, but potential noise pollution was also a concern noted by respondents. However, with the exception of equestrians (horse enthusiasts) who use the area for riding, a majority did not think that the wind farm would have a significant effect on travel within the area. Landsvirkjun will cooperate with the municipalities in the area and members of the tourism industry to create better opportunities for tourism alongside the development of the Búrfell Wind Farm without diminishing the current tourism activities within the area.

Tourists

Tourism will be affected during the construction period, and the erection of masts will have visual effects on the experience with the landscape. However, the majority of tourists who took part in the opinion survey believed that this would not affect their travelling habits to the area. The opinion survey showed that 84% of those travelling within the area were either connected to services or ordinary tourists. The proposed plans for the project will, according to the survey, not have an effect on the travel habits of 60% of tourists, and 7% would be more attracted to the area as a result of the proposed development. However, approximately 66% believed that the area would be less attractive. In light of these results, the impact on tourism within the area is considered to be somewhat negative, as only a relatively small number of tourists would not travel to the area if the project were to go ahead and new opportunities for tourism could become available.

Archaeological remains

Archaeological remains will not be disturbed and the effects are considered to be insignificant. The design of the wind farm will ensure that the cultural relics that fall within the demarcation of proposal 2 will not be disturbed if this proposal is chosen.

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Summary of environmental impact – natural environment

Landscape

The effects on landscape are mostly related to visual impact in areas defined as uninhabited wilderness in addition to the direct impact on the Búrfell landscape unit.
The landscape character assessment that outlines the effects on ‘landscape units’ uses two criteria. If construction work is planned within a landscape unit then this affects the characteristics of the landscape unit. If uninhabited wilderness is found within the landscape unit (see table) and wind turbines are visible within the landscape unit then this affects the landscape value. The effects on the 12 landscape units, defined by the landscape character assessment, ranged from ‘none’ to ‘considerable negative impact’. One particular landscape unit (Búrfell) will be the location for the main construction work for the proposed wind farm. The effect on this unit is considered to be ‘considerably negative’ as the unit has a low value. The effects on other units are mostly connected to visual impact from the untouched wilderness.

Proposal 1


Considerably negative impact (2)-Búrfell, Hekla


Somewhat negative impact (5)-Fossheiði, Friðland and up to Fjallabak, Heljarkinn, Vatnafjöll, Þjórsárdalur


Insignificant impact (2) – Búðarháls, Núpur


No impact (3) – Stóra – Melfell, Valagjá, Ytri – Rangá

Proposal 2


Considerably negative impact (2)-Búrfell, Hekla


Somewhat negative impact (5)-Fossheiði, Friðland and up to Fjallabak, Heljarkinn, Vatnafjöll, Þjórsárdalur


Insignificant impact (2) – Búðarháls, Núpur


No impact (3) – Stóra – Melfell, Valagjá, Ytri – Rangá

Proposal 3


Considerably negative impact (2)-Búrfell, Hekla


Somewhat negative impact (5)-Fossheiði, Friðland and up to Fjallabak, Heljarkinn, Vatnafjöll, Þjórsárdalur


Insignificant impact (2) – Búðarháls, Núpur


No impact (3) – Stóra – Melfell, Valagjá, Ytri – Rangá

Geological formations

The proposed construction work will have a localised effect on geological formations with a protection value. These formations include lava fields and pseudocraters protected by Act No. 60/2013 on nature conservation. The effects will be permanent since the soil will be removed and partly utilised for material sources related to the construction work. The geological formations are mostly or totally covered by tephra. Therefore, the protection value is limited and effects are insignificant.
The design of the project ensures that roads and platforms are limited to necessity and that storage areas, as well as other construction components, are kept to a minimum. This will reduce the effects on environmental aspects pertaining to geological formations.

Vegetation

There are no ‘valuable’ natural vegetation communities at a regional or national level within the area, with the exception of a birch scrub that grew in an isolated area of Klofaey islet in the Þjórsá River. That site will not be disturbed. Re-vegetated land areas will be affected. The effects on vegetation are overall considered to be insignificant.
The environmental impact assessment does not show any need to relocate the wind turbines away from vegetated areas, in the final design. Roads will also be constructed in poorly vegetated areas. Efforts will be made to utilise the herbage layer for finishing work in disturbed areas.

Birdlife

The development of the Búrfell Wind Farm will have a directly negative impact on nesting birds within the area and on bird migration routes. There is also a danger that birds will collide with wind turbines. However, the results of extensive research show that the overall effects will be small or insignificant on birdlife.
Landsvirkjun will monitor bird collision rates and take action if the effects are substantial.

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Búrfellslundur Wind Farm EIA report

The Búrfellslundur Wind Farm EIA report can be accessed here.
Further discussion on overall effects is in chapter 8.1

EIA report

186 MB PDF