Following ongoing protest from area residents who feared having a natural gas plant in their Gazan border midst, the Southern District Committee for Planning and Building decided unanimously not to recommend constructing such a facility in the Be’er Tuviya Industrial Zone.

The residents had for several years been protesting the construction of the plant, which was slated to contain 35 tons of natural gas, 9,000 cubic meters of diesel and pipes carrying up to an additional 170 tons of gas. In March, after a barrage of rockets hit the area, Be’er Tuviya and Kiryat Malachi residents sent a petition letter to the High Court of Justice, and followed up in June with a mass protest in front of the National Committee for Planning and Building. During November’s Operation Pillar of Defense, after more than 15 rockets hit in the area planned for the facility, the residents sent a letter to the ministers of defense, interior and public security, as well as the prime minister, demanding that the government immediately relocate the plant.

The project was initiated by Shikun V’Binui six years ago through its former subsidiary IPM Be’er Tuviya, which was then sold to Triple-M Power Plants Ltd.

“The southern district committee’s decision is a necessary step, and it is a significant, additional sign on the way to removing this plan from the agenda,” said Adva Dror, coordinator of the residents’ campaign. “It was clear that no responsible parties could tie themselves to a plan to establish a gasfired power plant in the heart of an industrial area filled with hazardous materials and adjacent to the second largest concentration of ammonia in Israel.”

Less than a month before, a Grad rocket hit a logistics structure located only 40 meters from the area designated for the natural gas plant’s construction, Dror explained.

“We have no doubt that the unanimous decision of the committee indicates an understanding of planning officials and government representatives in the southern district that the initiative to construct a plant in the current place is not in the interest of the public and does not serve the common good,” Dror said.

Triple-M has continued to assure that it would undertake all necessary means of environmental protection when constructing the plant, adhering to the highest safety standards. Asaf Vitman, CEO of IPM Be’er Tuviya, has likewise emphasized that the plant would be built in accordance with the law and has noted that plants have been established in many areas throughout the countries where rockets have fallen.

In response to the southern district committee decision, Triple-M said its plan to construct the plant has been approved after public review by the Interior Ministry’s National Infrastructure Committee.

“The energy plant that will be established opposite [Moshav] Timorim is part of the security system of natural gas in Israel, and is being established on the basis of the strictest European standards,” the company said.

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