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Knesset panel demands public be included in gas reception decisions
By sharon udasin
01/22/2014
Call regards placement of facilities, which will receive and treat gas from offshore drilling rigs to Israel's shores.
 

Members of the Knesset’s Internal Affairs and Environment Committee signed a letter of objection to the National Council for Planning and Building on Wednesday, demanding that the public be taken into account regarding the location of northern natural gas reception facilities.

The letter was the result of a committee discussion on Wednesday about placement of the facilities, which are to receive and treat gas coming from the offshore drilling rigs.

In November, the council approved the national master plan TAMA-37-H, which details the infrastructure required for moving and processing the county’s gas supplies.

The firm Lerman Architects and Town Planners Ltd. has been tasked with developing two land-based reception and processing points near Haifa.

While the architects have long maintained that constructing such infrastructure on land presents far fewer complications and environmental risks than doing so at sea, environmentalists and local residents argue that completely at-sea reception terminals would be preferable.

Arguing that the council failed to include public representatives in the committee that undertook the decision, MK Dov Henin (Hadash) argued that the structure of the committee was lacking.

He slammed the council for failing to provide alternatives to the approved plans with detailed analysis.

“The format in which the council worked, and I say this with care, seems illegal to me,” Henin said.

MK Tamar Zandberg (Meretz) praised the residents for their continued perseverance.

“Beyond the fact that I am taking off my hat to the civic activism of the residents, I think that we need to resist this unsound process,” she said.

In addition to deciding that her entire committee would sign the letter, Internal Affairs and Environment Committee chairwoman Miri Regev said she would ask the Interior Ministry director-general to present the council’s considerations to the committee.

Maya Jacobs, head of the environmental organization Zalul, argued that building the reception facilities at sea would be faster, cheaper and safer.

Stressing that a land site would be disastrous for his region, Carmel Sela, chairman of Hof Hacarmel Regional Council, said government bodies, organizations and global experts have “determined unequivocally” the marine facility is the right choice.

“We ask that this matter, of how much [gas] will be cleaned at sea and how much on land, will be decided by experts and not by a body that does not have the obligation to report to the public,” added Rani Eden, chairman of Emek Hefer Regional Council.

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