The moon shines in the night sky above the Dead Sea.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
An Environmental Protection Ministry master plan to protect Israel’s coastal cliffs from collapse received the approval of the National Council for Planning and Building on Tuesday, the ministry announced that day.
Formulated in partnership with the Interior Ministry’s Planning Authority, the Environment Ministry’s plan will enable local authorities to issue expedited building permits to reinforce portions of the coastal cliffs that are in danger of collapse, the ministry said.
Every year, the coastal cliffs lose between 40 cm. and 50 cm., and their collapse endangers human life and generates billions of shekels worth of damage to real estate, heritage sites and infrastructure, according to the ministry.
“This is a significant environmental achievement,” said Deputy Environmental Protection Minister Ophir Akunis, whose office will be funding the program. “The approval of the plan will enable the preservation of a unique asset, curb the disintegration of the cliffs and thereby save money and develop the coastal areas for the public.”
Expert analyses have demonstrated that the main causes of the erosion are waves battering the cliffs, in addition to the natural process of deterioration and the flow of rainwater through cracks in the ground, the ministry explained.
The Mediterranean coast, from Zikim in the South to Rosh Hanikra in the North, covers an area of about 190 kilometers. A 45-km. stretch between Ashkelon and Hadera, made of kurkar sandstone and rising 10 to 50 meters, has been collapsing and eroding continuously for years.
Government efforts to promote the preservation of the country’s cliffs have increased significantly in recent years. In an effort led by then environmental protection minister Gilad Erdan, the cabinet approved in 2013 the establishment of a government company for coastal cliff protection housed in the Environmental Protection Ministry with a long-term investment of NIS 500m.
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The company is responsible for planning and implementing defense mechanisms for cliffs, such as placing breakwaters along the shores.
The new master plan, which will enable local authorities to quicken their permitting process, will be brought to the cabinet for final government approval in the coming weeks, the ministry said.
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