Arava desert to be storage site for aircraft
Service station will be an economic stimulus for the region, providing 800 jobs, Interior Ministry says.
Udi Gat Photo: Eilot
A large plot of arid desert land in the country’s Arava region will soon become
a service and dismantling hub to about 500 aircraft.
The Committee for
Principal Planning under the Interior Ministry’s National Planning and Building
Council approved the proposal on Tuesday in a majority vote, and the 260-hectare
(642-acre) site will crop up next to the Ovda Airport, where it will be
integrated with the facility’s operations, according to the ministry.
service station will be an economic stimulus for the region, providing 800 jobs,
of which 500 will be engineering – leading to further professional development
of the periphery, the ministry said. Constructing the site will be Airpark Ltd.,
a subsidiary of IES Holdings that is run by CEO Doron Segev.
the ecological impact, the Interior Ministry said that the Environmental
Protection Ministry had already approved an environmental assessment of the
location. Despite heavy criticism from green groups, the Committee for Principal
Planning decided that aircraft scrapping would be a vital component of the
site’s operations and would constitute only a “minor [activity] that is done in
a designated area in order to prevent environmental damage.”
To make sure
that scrapping is kept to a low, environmentally friendly volume, the ministry
said it had assigned a Committee for Surveillance and Inspection to monitor the
The planning committee cited Eilot Regional Council
head Udi Gat as expressing his approval of the plans and stressing that the
site’s establishment would bring development opportunities to the
The Society for the Protection of Nature argued, however, that
the site would infringe on the ecological uniqueness of the area, and sent SPNI
planning director Itamar Ben-David, attorney Noa Yayon and ecologist Yoav
Perlman to argue at the committee’s Tuesday hearing.
However, the board
rejected the green group’s complaints.
“Unfortunately, instead of saving
natural treasures and the unique landscape of the Arava and supporting the local
population, it was decided [on Tuesday] in Israel to bring hundreds of tons of
trash per year and transform the South of Israel into the garbage bin of the
world,” an SPNI statement read.
In response, Airpark said the project had
the “utmost compatibility [with] the environment,” and stressed that there had
been a comprehensive environmental survey addressing all potential issues.
Regarding airplane disassembly, the company said, “the program includes an
unequivocal commitment to recycling and reuse,” and at least 90 percent of the
parts dismantled will be recycled.
Approximately 15 planes will be
dismantled per year, added Airpark, and the resulting waste will not exceed the
amount of waste that the city of Eilat produces in one day.
The site, the
company continued, would provide hundreds of jobs to those in technical
professions and would encourage immigration to the southern region.