State's last-minute purchase of Iceland glacial lagoon

  • 10 January 2017
A man takes a picture of blue icebergs at the Jokulsarlon glacial lagoon Image copyright JOEL SAGET/AFP/Getty Images
Image caption Part of the lagoon was under private ownership - the rest is already managed by the state

Iceland's government is splashing out on a patch of land in the country's south-east in order to protect one of its most famous attractions - the Jokulsarlon glacial lagoon.

A portion of the lagoon falls within an estate called Fell, which was put up for auction last year due to a long-running dispute between its 40 landowners over how to accommodate tourism there. Conservationists called for the site to come under public ownership so that it could be patrolled and protected, but it was sold in November to an investment company for more than 1.5bn krona ($13m; £10.8m).

Any plans that company had will now be scrapped, though, as the ministry of finance says it's exercising its right to pre-empt the sale by matching the winning bid, Visir's Iceland Magazine reports. The ministry's brief announcement says it's buying the land in accordance with conservation laws.

Officials left it until the 11th hour to step in. As Morgunbladid newspaper points out, the decision was made public on Monday, only a day before the 10 January deadline.

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