Timna Valley’s Sasgon Valley 390.
(photo credit: Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel)
The Environmental Protection Ministry, the Society for the Protection of Nature
in Israel and Mayor Yehiel Zohar of Netivot submitted a joint appeal on Monday
to the National Planning and Building Council against the December decision of
the Southern District Planning Committee to authorize the construction of a
resort hotel in the Sasgon Valley.
Arguing that the resort would be an
“ambitious project” located “in the heart of a sensitive and unique desert
area,” the appeal said that building a hotel in this region would cause
irreversible damage to the area at the expense of future generations.
complainants also charged that the planning of the project was occurring in an
irresponsible manner and adhering to archaic and old-fashioned
Despite public opposition, expected environmental damage and
even a court ruling on the subject, the committee is still continuing with plans
to build the hotel, the appeal argued.
When the Southern District
Committee first approved the resort in mid-December, Environmental Protection
Minister Gilad Erdan had promised that his ministry would do everything that it
could to “undermine the decision and activate all means possible in order to
prevent the destruction of nature and unique landscape.”
For years, the
issue of building a resort in the Sasgon Valley, which is located within the
Timna Valley, has been under dispute. In 2008, Adam Teva V’Din – The Israel
Union for Environmental Defense first petitioned plans for development in the
area, after which the court ruled that the initial approval process had been
flawed and must be returned for further review in the district
Following a court order, Ethos environmental consulting group
carried out a thirdparty survey that examined alternatives for the region and
also determined that the Sasgon land is “rare at a national level, an area that
has not yet been breached by human activities,” according to Adam Teva
The three bodies filing Monday’s appeal also stressed that the
planning process contained errors, and slammed the committee for ignoring the
recommendations of the third-party report and not considering the alternatives
that the committee itself prepared.
“The committee’s procedures were
filled with errors and were unreasonable, disproportionate and illogical,
ultimately leading to the approval of an option in an environmentally
destructive location,” the groups said in a joint statement.