The Central District Committee for Planning and Building recommended on Sunday that the National Council for Planning and Building reject current plans to construct onshore gas reception terminals.
The plans, TAMA-37-H, detail the necessary infrastructure for moving and processing the copious Mediterranean Sea gas supplies. The firm Lerman Architects and Town Planners has been tasked with developing two land-based reception and processing plants along the country’s northern coast. The architects favor two specific on-land locations, at the Meretz sewage treatment facility site in the Emek Hefer Regional Council area, and at Hagit, near Yokne’am.
Although environmentalists and local residents prefer an offshore option, the planners have advocated a program that relies on land facilities to minimize building complications and associated risks.
In the Sunday recommendation, committee members acknowledged the importance of bringing more to the energy sector as quickly as possible due to the environmental and cost benefits.
However, the committee members also stressed that rushing ahead with the onshore facilities could harm the environmental quality and agricultural lands of the region.
The National Council for Planning and Building will now need to bring up the matter for continued discussions and consider the thousands of objections filed against the plan by the region’s residents.
Residents, however, are claiming a cautious victory.
“The district committee’s decision is more proof that the governmental authorities are beginning to understand what is already clear to everyone,” said Emek Hefer Regional Council Chairman Rani Idan. “The complete treatment of natural gas should occur at sea.
“We demand that the National Council and the investigator examine our complaints and listen to us – it is faster, safer, cheaper and more environmental to establish the facilities at sea,” Idan added.”
The environmental organization Zalul also praised the committee’s recommendation, stressing that this “adds another giant barrier of objections to the onshore facilities.”
Echoing Idan’s sentiments, the organization stressed that building offshore facilities will be safer, faster and cheaper than the land alternatives.
“There is no doubt that these advantages will enable a healthy environment for man and nature,” the organization said.
Globes contributed to this report.