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Wind farms in the Icelandic highlands: Attitudes of local residents and tourism service providers


  • Ólafsdóttir, Rannveig
  • Sæþórsdóttir, Anna Dóra


Over the last decades the harnessing of wind power has gained increasing popularity and is currently believed to be one of world’s best environmental options in seeking to meet the international target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by at least half by the year 2050. There is undeniably an abundance of wind resources in Iceland. But what impact would the harnessing of this power have on the country’s growing tourism industry? This paper focuses on the dynamics existing between wind farming, residents and tourism. Its overall aim is to evaluate the attitudes of local residents and tourism service providers in Southern Iceland towards the country’s first proposed wind farm, which is to be located at the edge of Iceland’s Southern highlands, and to critically discuss the causal relationship between the landscape and these attitudes. An on-site questionnaire was distributed to residents in the municipalities adjacent to the proposed wind farm. Interviews were also conducted with residents and tourist service providers. The results indicate that the relationship between residents and the landscape of the proposed site is based on its use as highland pasture and the residents’ romantic conception of the landscape, which for centuries has been characterized by wildness and remoteness. This conception seems to linger on despite gradually increasing hydropower production in the area. The associations made by tourist service providers with the area differ since they are selling a certain image, that of unspoilt nature and wilderness. Wind turbines would be a new and prominent presence in the Icelandic landscape likely to transform the area from its previous perceived wild and natural state. As such, social acceptance of the location of wind farms in the Icelandic highlands is more critical than in the case of more traditional ways of harnessing renewable energy.

Suggested Citation

  • Ólafsdóttir, Rannveig & Sæþórsdóttir, Anna Dóra, 2019. "Wind farms in the Icelandic highlands: Attitudes of local residents and tourism service providers," Land Use Policy, Elsevier, vol. 88(C).
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:lauspo:v:88:y:2019:i:c:s0264837719301590
    DOI: 10.1016/j.landusepol.2019.104173

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