The model for the Master Plan

Norway and Samlet plan for vassdrag

Norway is, as far as we know, the only country in the world that has drawn up a Master Plan for the utilisation of their own renewable energy resources in a similar manner as has been done in Iceland. As a matter of fact the Icelandic Master Plan is based on the Norwegian one. Work on the Norwegian Master Plan (see here and here, both in Norwegian only) began in the nineteen eighties and consisted in a technical assessment of the interests connected to various land utilisation aspects in areas where there were plans for the construction of power plants. The feasibility of the power plant options was also investigated. The Norwegian Parliament then took a position regarding the conclusions reached by the experts and rounded up the issue in three parliamentary resolutions, the last one in 1991-92. Since then there has not been any further assessment of power plant options in Norway and the conclusions reached by their Parliament from 1991-92 still stand.

The Icelandic Alþingi decided to approach the matter by passing an act of law on the Master Plan. The act was passed in May of 2011 and entered fully into force in January of 2013. Thereby the conclusions of the Master Plan have the force of law and local governments are required to arrange their planning in line with the conclusions of the Master Plan. No such act of law was passed in Norway and the Norwegian Master Plan has not undergone a comprehensive review since 1992.

One of the most important points that separates the Icelandic Master Plan from the Norwegian one is that the act regarding the Icelandic Plan provides for a periodic revision of the Plan. The Minister for the Environment and Natural Resources, in consultation and cooperation with the minister responsible for energy, is required to introduce in the Alþingi, at a minimum every four years, a proposal for the classification of power plant options. In addition the Act also assumes that it is possible to reassess power plant options from earlier phases in order to respond to new situations and/or new technology, provided that the power plant has not already been constructed or the area been declared a protected area.