Environmentalists to protest housing plans in Sharon

The ongoing planning is pressing forward without regard for ecological concerns, the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel stressed.

sharon370 (photo credit: Dov Greenvlet/SPNI)
(photo credit: Dov Greenvlet/SPNI)
Representatives from the country’s environmental organizations and from Sharon region communities will formally voice their protests on Wednesday against a mammoth housing project slated to be built on the former site of an Israel Military Industries complex.
Arguing that the plans involve an area with over 373 species of plants – many of which are unique or endangered varieties – the group will appear before a special investigator appointed by the Interior Ministry to review all objections concerning the project, the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel said.
After hearing all concerns and conducting his own reviews, the investigator will submit a formal opinion regarding the plan – the construction of 23,000 housing units on 740 hectares of IMI land in the Sharon region.
“The current plans have been drawn without any consideration of the rare natural resources discovered in the area,” a statement from the SPNI said. “It is necessary to rearrange the plan, with a different layout, to enable the preservation of unique plants found in the area and the establishment of a nature park for the benefit and welfare of future residents.”
The enormous area encompasses portions of four local authority areas – Ramat Hasharon, Herzliya, Hod Hasharon and South Sharon Regional Council.
According to a survey commissioned in recent years by the Israel Lands Authority and conducted by ecological and environment consultant Dr.
Ron Frumkin, the area contains 373 plant species, of which 23 are considered protected and 27 are considered rare. Of these, the existence of 14 species is in jeopardy, and 20 have very minimal geographical distribution.
The planning is pressing forward without any regard for ecological concerns, the statement from the SPNI stressed.
In order to allow for the preservation of so many rare plant species, the ILA must demand a new construction plan, which takes into account the establishment of an ecological park for leisure and recreation, the organization said. This, however, will be possible only after necessary tests and treatment for soil pollution at the former IMI site, according to the SPNI.
“At Sharon IMI there is an unprecedented opportunity to bring about the conservation and cultivation of contiguous natural areas, creating a unique nature park, which is unlike any in the country’s Center – particularly in such close proximity to Tel Aviv,” said Moshe Perlmutter, nature conservation coordinator for the SPNI. “This park will be a Garden of Eden for many wild plants, some of which are endangered. No less important, a nature park at the [former] IMI complex will enable hiking, fun and education, in the bosom of nature close to home, and it will bring with it a higher quality of life for hundreds of thousands of residents of nearby cities.”