The Ministerial Committee on Interior Affairs, Services and Local Government unanimously approved on Sunday a plan for transporting natural gas from additional future terminals to the country’s transmission system.

The purpose of the program, according to a statement from the Interior Ministry, is to create infrastructure that will facilitate the smooth transfer of Israel’s ample natural gas discoveries to the national transmission system. By adding northern terminals, in addition to the country’s lone existing facility, Israel will be able to count on “a continuous and regular gas supply” for its consumers, the ministry explained.

Sunday’s approval occurred followed a recent authorization in June to move forward with the program from the National Council for Planning and Building.

Through the national master plan – TAMA-37-H – gas will be able to reach Israel’s northern coast split into two new routes. All in all, there will be two receiving sites at sea, two receiving sites on land – four new gas terminals, as well as improvements to the existing site in Ashdod.

The northern of the two complexes to be built in the country’s North will include a marine reception facility in the space between Dor and Or Akiva beaches, and a treatment site located near the Hagit power station, according to the Interior Ministry.

The southernmost of the two complexes involves a maritime reception space between the Beit Yannai and Netanya beaches, as well as a reception and treatment station on the grounds of the Meretz sewage treatment facility site.

Based on demand forecasts of the Natural Gas Authority, the sites will be able to handle about 4 million cubic meters of gas hourly – 2 million at each of the facilities, the Interior Ministry explained.

“The entire plan was prepared in accordance with the guidance of an environmental impact assessment, engineering, seismic-geological and operational data,” the ministry stressed.

While environmentalists and northern coastal area residents have long been advocating the installation of marine reception facilities, the developers tasked with constructing the sites – Lerman Architects and Town Planners – have maintained that terrestrial construction would reduce environmental risks and other complications.

Natural gas developers have argued that at least a portion of the gas treatment must occur on land regardless, because gas experiences a reduction in pressure during undersea pipeline travel, which must be remediated onshore.

In response to the decision, a spokesman for Emek Hefer Regional Council, which has been very vocal in the fight for maritime based facilities, called the ministerial committee’s resolution “nothing new.”

“The decision states that there will be two facilities receiving gas at sea, where, according to the National Council for Planning and Building, gas will be handled,” a statement from the council said. “The committee reserves the option for terrestrial based gas reception sites, even though according to expert opinions, this will not be needed.”

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