The National Council for Planning and Building approved on Tuesday a national master plan for handling offshore natural gas which would involve a mix of gas treatment both on sea and on land.
The goal of the national master plan – TAMA-37-H – is to establish two new northern reception and treatment facilities for the copious gas supplies at sea, in order to secure a steady supply to the national transmission system, according to the Interior Ministry.
After hearing the recommendations of an investigator who examined objections to the various plans suggested, the council accepted a plan that involves a combination of marine- and terrestrial-based facilities.
The national master plan, which will now be transferred to the government for approval, includes two reception and treatment complexes.
The northern complex would include a marine reception facility in the space between Dor and Or Akiva beaches, as well as a treatment site located near the Hagit power station, the ministry said.
The southern complex includes 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, the ministry added.
Although environmentalists and residents have long been fighting for the offshore option, the developers tasked with constructing the sites have maintained that terrestrial construction would reduce complications and environmental risks.
The Lerman Architects and Town Planners firm was chosen to construct the reception and processing facilities, which company executives said they prefer to see on land.
Residents who had protested the establishment of facilities solely on land applauded the council’s decision on Tuesday.
“The national council’s decision is tremendous news for the residents of Hof Hacarmel, Megiddo and Emek Hefer,” said Carmel Sela, the head of the Hof Hacarmel Regional Council.
“The council decided today to distance the entrance of the treatment facilities to the sea and thereby paved the way for introducing natural gas quickly into the State of Israel.”
Although Rani Idan, mayor of Emek Hefer, largely praised the council’s decision, he stressed that there is no need for a landbased portion of the facilities at all. Idan therefore pledged to continue the fight for further reductions of terrestrial sites.
Natural gas developers have argued some land-based treatment of gas must occur no matter what, as the gas experiences a reduction in pressure during undersea pipeline travel, which must be remediated onshore.