‘Defend the nation’s sovereignty’: Iceland wants to stop foreign land ownership

‘Defend the nation’s sovereignty’: Iceland wants to stop foreign land ownership
Iceland is considering a law to ban foreigners from buying its land. The country’s authorities and local residents are concerned about how such land is being used.

“First and foremost, I want to defend the nation’s sovereignty,” Iceland’s first environmentalist prime minister, Katrin Jakobsdottir, told Bloomberg. “It matters to us that we can decide how the land is developed and utilized.”

The local press reported in July that foreigners are interested in buying 2,300 hectares (5,700 acres) of land in Fljot, Skagafjorour in northern Iceland, adding to several plots that they already own.

“It revolves around how we look at our land; the land as a resource and the land as part of our sovereignty,” Jakobsdottir said.

Iceland is considering setting limits on the size and number of plots of land belonging to each party, or imposing stricter limits on land purchases by citizens outside the European Economic Area, a free-trade zone linked with the European Union.

The country can already block purchases by non-Europeans. Back in 2012, Iceland prevented Chinese billionaire Huang Nubo from buying a 300-square-kilometer piece of land in the north of the country.

Local farmers are also less than enamored with the idea of having foreigners as their neighbors. British billionaire Jim Ratcliffe and his associates own a total of 39 sites that are rich with fishing rivers. “They say they want to protect the salmon, but that’s not a very believable explanation,” farmer Aevar Rafn Marinosson, who is Ratcliffe’s neighbor, told Bloomberg.

Only 0.1 percent of land in Iceland is owned by foreigners. However, corporations own 27.9 percent, and the country doesn’t report which nationalities are behind these corporations.

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