(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Environmentalists claimed victory on Monday, when the appeals committee of the National Council for Planning and Building rejected calls to build a beach resort at Nahsholim in northern Israel.
The committee scrapped a petition filed by the Israel Lands Authority, the Tourism Ministry, and the Construction Ministry on Sunday evening, appealing a previous decision of the Haifa District Committee for Planning and Building against building a resort on the property. Nahsholim is a seaside kibbutz located on Israel’s northern coast, about 30 kilometers south of Haifa and 20 kilometers north of Caesarea.
“This is a clear victory for all Israeli residents, who will benefit from an open beach for every citizen and not just for those who will pay thousands of shekels a night,” said Deputy Environmental Protection Minister Ofir Akunis. “We have removed the threat on one of the most beautiful and special beaches in Israel. In a crowded country like ours that will only become more crowded, we must do our utmost to keep as many beaches as possible open to the public – for the benefit of our children and generations to come.”
The building plans at Nahsholim had called for about 500 hotel rooms to be built north of the kibbutz, in an area adjacent to the Tel Dor National Park, about 300 meters from Dor Beach, the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel (SPNI) said.
Slated to encompass about 10.1 hectares of land, the area designated for the future resort was marked as highly sensitive environmentally under National Master Plan 35 (TAMA-35), Adam Teva V’Din (the Israel Union for Environmental Defense) explained. In 2012, after receiving objections from the public, the Haifa District Committee for Planning and Building rejected the plans.
SPNI called the appeals committee’s decision “brave” and stressed that members of the public will now be able to enjoy a place that is “a magnet not only for water fowl and an abundance of migratory, permanent, and occasionally appearing birds, but also for the widespread public, cyclists, bird-watchers, and hikers.”
Yael Dori, head of planning and development at Adam Teva V’Din, praised the decision as consistent with recently environmentally favorable trends – like the Central District Committee for Planning and Building’s December 1 decision to declare Palmahim Beach a national park.
Also expressing praise for the appeals committee’s decision was MK Dov Henin (Hadash). He stressed, however, the importance of passing a law that can universally protect beaches from building threats.
The government approved a Protection of the Environmental Coast Law in 2004, limiting beach building to within 300 meters of the water. Nonetheless, seaside projects approved prior to this year – but that still have yet to be built – can continue to receive permits without reexamination.
“Beach by beach, in a difficult struggle in the public and in the Knesset, we are succeeding in preserving Israel’s coast,” Henin said. “But against the wave of seaside real estate developers, the time has come to create a systemic solution and amend the Coast Law, so that beaches will be protected for us.”