Facing heavy opposition from green groups, the Central District Planning and
Building Committee approved on late Monday afternoon oil drilling plans for the
Meged 6, 7 and 8 plots in the area of Rosh Ha’ayin.
Environmental Protection Ministry and green organizations blasted the
committee’s decision to approve drillings by the Givot Olam Oil company, due to
the environmental sensitivity of the area and the potential harm that drilling
could cause to local residents.
Further oil drilling should not occur
until the government formulates a national strategy to examine its environmental
impact, according to the ministry.
Accordingly, Environmental Protection
Minister Gilad Erdan sent a letter to Energy and Water Minister Uzi Landau on
Monday after the decision, asking that Landau’s ministry join the Environmental
Protection Ministry in preparing a strategic impact report on the exploitation
of Israel’s energy resources.
The purpose of the report would be to
outline an overall government policy, and to examine the long-term consequences
of drilling such wells, Erdan’s letter explained.
The minister stressed
that such a report is an acceptable tool widely used in developed countries that
has not yet been used in Israel. It would examine potential risks to water
resources, cumulative ecological implications, potential mishaps and
preventative mechanisms, according to the letter.
“The oil exploration
industry can have positive economic impacts, but first and foremost it causes
certain environmental damages that may be irreversible – and unfortunately, the
Energy [and Water] Ministry does not outline a clear policy and set priorities,”
“The promotion of drilling without investigation will harm
the great green land reserves that surround the Gush Dan and will prevent
millions of residents [from] access to leisure and recreational activities in
The Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel (SPNI)
likewise stressed that the eastern hills of the central district bear an
ecologically critical landscape – a passageway of sorts that connects the
country’s North to the South – creating a network of open spaces for animals and
a migration route for birds of prey. Drilling would severely harm wildlife
activity at night, and developers should refrain from drilling in that region
and instead find alternative spaces that are less ecologically sensitive,
according to SPNI.
“The regional committee decided in fact to sacrifice
the national ecological corridor, the only one in the center of the country, in
favor of drilling,” SPNI said in a statement. “The developer, Givot Olam, left
when all of its requests were in its hands, while environment and ecological
values that are important on a national level have been pushed aside to a
“The price will be paid, as usual, by the public and nature,”
the statement continued.