Icelandic ‘elf lobby’ forces halt on new road construction

Icelandic ‘elf lobby’ forces halt on new road construction
Elves have a voice in Iceland where they historically belong. No wonder elf advocates have teamed up with ecologists to urge local authorities to give up a highway project they fear could damage their “natural habitat” and won.

A group known as "Friends of Lava" has been campaigning against the new road from the Alftanes peninsula, where the country’s president has a home, to Gardabaer in Reykjavik. Hundreds of people have been walking out to block the bulldozers.

Their campaign, which has lasted almost a year, has finally yielded to a longer-run result. The construction project has been halted until the Supreme Court of Iceland rules on the case.

To ease public concerns about elf well-being, the local administration has released a stock media response stating that "issues have been settled by delaying the construction project at a certain point while the elves living there have supposedly moved on.”

One of the elves' friends, Ragnhildur Jonsdottir, who believes she can communicate with them through telepathy, has warned that "it will be a terrible loss and damaging both for the elf world and for us humans" if the road project is given the go-ahead, however.

Even those who have no contact with elves whatsoever have spoken in support of their environmental concerns.

"Some feel that the elf thing is a bit annoying," local environmentalist Andri Snaer Magnason told AP on Sunday. "I got married in a church with a god just as invisible as the elves, so what might seem irrational is actually quite common" with Icelanders, he added.

Magnason also fears the road project could cut the lava field in two, destroying nesting sites among other things.

Scandinavian folklore is awash with elves and trolls, but a number of people in Iceland still believe that elves are not mythological characters from children's fairy-tales, a thing of the past.

A survey conducted by the University of Iceland in 2007 found that over 60 percent of the 1,000 respondents thought it was at least possible that elves exist.

A folklore professor at the University of Iceland said he was not surprised by the common belief of the possibility of elves' existence.

"This is a land where your house can be destroyed by something you can't see (earthquakes), where the wind can knock you off your feet, where the smell of sulfur from your taps tells you there is invisible fire not far below your feet, where the northern lights make the sky the biggest television screen in the world, and where hot springs and glaciers `talk,'"
Terry Gunnell told AP.