haifa port 311.
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
The directors-general advisory committee tasked with deciding how to divide the land around Haifa Port to accommodate its expansion and a public park decided on Thursday morning to recommend a public park on 590 dunams (59 hectares).
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The Kishon Stream Authority, the Environmental Protection Ministry, and the major environmental groups, led by the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel had said that 1,200 dunams were needed for a proper rehabilitation of the stream and its habitat.
The committee was formed by the Israel Lands Administration after the Kishon Stream Authority objected to a proposed lease agreement between the Israel Ports Company and the ILA for much of the land around the port to enable future expansion. The committee was tasked with finding a solution to balance the future needs of the port, green spaces and housing in the area.
The committee decided to recommend setting aside 590 dunams as public land for the park. The rest of the area along the stream would be given to the Israel Ports Company but with the restriction that planning must take into account the ecological needs of the area. As such, even the area along the stream that would be used to expand the port would have to tuck the containers out of sight of the stream to maximize the park’s value to the public.
An area to replace the 590 dunams would be found for the Israel Ports Company as well. The committee will make its recommendations to the Israel Lands Administration’s council.
Environmental Protection Minister Gilad Erdan praised the committee’s decision. “This is another important environmental decision which proves that, even in the era of development, one can and must preserve the balance between the public and the environment’s needs and developing infrastructure. Finally, hundreds of thousands of residents of the Haifa metropolitan area will be able to enjoy a large green public park with the rehabilitated Kishon Stream as its base,” he said in a statement.
The Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel released a more critical response.“We have no doubt that great damage to the special ecology of the stream was prevented by the swift enlistment of the public, the environmental groups, academics from all over the country and the national fishermen’s union to object to the transfer of land along the Kishon to the IPC [Israel Ports Company] to house shipping containers.
“At the same time, SPNI and the scientists believe that reducing the park’s area from 1,200 dunams to just 590 dunams does not meet the requirements for rehabilitating the ecological systems of the Kishon Stream, which was neglected and polluted for many years, and for a park in the Haifa Gulf area, one of the most crowded in the country.
SPNI, the scientists and the public will continue to work to ensure an allocation of land which will enable the rehabilitation and protection of the ecology around the stream,” SPNI said in a statement.
The Israel Ports Company said the committee’s decision conformed to its own position that a similar amount of any land set aside for a park had to be found for future expansion.
“It appears that the proposed recommendation supports the public interest which was expressed by IPC that the expansion of Haifa and the north should not be neglected and that a proper balance must be found between the development needs of Haifa Port, which represent an economic impetus and central source of employment for the north, and the need to develop the nature and landscape along the Kishon.
“IPC’s position that a similar amount of alternate lands to develop the port must be allocated in place of those around the Kishon stands at the center of the committee’s recommendation. IPC invites all of the relevant participants to cooperate with the company to implement this vision,” the company said in a statement.
Meanwhile, SPNI also criticized the committee itself for barring a representative of the environmental groups from the discussion on Thursday morning while allowing a representative of the Israel Ports Company to attend.