Ministry approves beach wall plan at Apollonia

The Environmental Protection Ministry has approved the Herzliya City Council's plan to stabilize the crumbling Apollonia cliff, saying that it is the most practical of the proposals put forward to save the cliff, reports The city has proposed building a stone supporting wall at the foot of the cliff to protect it from the crashing waves, an idea that has been criticized by local environmentalists and experts. According to the report, several weeks ago the city was about to approve a special budget of NIS 3 million to build the wall when the ministry asked it to hold off so that it could consider other alternatives. Local environmentalists say the fallen rocks at the foot of the cliff and the sea water washing in over them provide a habitat for numerous species of marine life, and that in addition many unexamined archeological fragments have fallen in the area, and a wall would destroy both these things. And geologists say the wall would not provide a solution to the problem of rock falls from the cliff, while it would cause irreversible damage to the beach. The report said that anyone who has visited the beach in recent years could not help but notice the crumbling of the cliff, at the top of which sit the ruins of a Crusader fortress. The fortress was declared endangered back in 2003. The report said the ministry has now decided to approve the city's plan for the wall, writing to Mayor Yael German to say that after touring the area last week, the ministry believed that alternative plans would be too difficult to put into place, and it would be "correct to act immediately to advance the realization of the solution to the problem at the cliff under the Apollonia site according to the plan you have proposed." The letter added that action should also be taken by the responsible authorities to protect the top of the cliff and to ensure that sand flow was not impeded so that neighboring beaches would not be harmed. German said she welcomed the ministry's decision, saying that the Apollonia site was a "historic treasure of international importance," and that the city had been working for years to try to find the best solution for the cliff. She said the city would now act as quickly as possible to put the plan into action.