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  • Visual Impact Assessment of Small-Scale Mining in Iceland: A Tool for Municipal Planning and Decision Making
  • Meistara
  • Small-scale aggregates mines and quarries are very widespread in Iceland, with over 3000 mines alone registered with the Icelandic Road Administration. Most of the volume of aggregates and rock that is mined is used for construction. The mining of building stone and aggregates has mainly visual impacts on their surroundings, but can also have significant impacts on biodiversity and hydrology. Icelandic municipalities are required by law to include all extraction in their land-use plans and issue permissions for any new mining projects. The objective of this study is to develop and test a simple evaluation tool that can help municipal authorities and planners in these tasks. The tool is based on a modified version of the Visual Resource Management methodology developed in the United States of America. The tool assesses visual quality and sensitivity of a landscape in order to identify its vulnerability to change. In a second step, the actual impact of the project is assessed by rating the contrast to the surrounding environment. A study using the tool was carried out in the Municipality of Hornafjörður, where it was tested on 10 proposed mining sites relating to the construction of a new stretch of a road. The tool created was found to be useful for determining the visual impact of a mining project within the landscape. It can be a tool that, combined with other assessments, notably of biodiversity and hydrology impacts, enables municipalities to create sound plans and make informed decisions about the locations and dimensions of mining projects.

  • 27.1.2010

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