Israel's municipalities have vowed to fight the decision by the National Subcommittee on Planning earlier this week to reject plans put forward by the Israel Port Authority to build new marinas in Haifa, Hadera, Netanya, Tel Aviv (Sde Dov) and Bat Yam, while only approving a new marina for Nahariya.
The main reason for rejecting the plans were environmental and social. The Planning Administration spokesperson said, "The Committee thinks that due to concerns about harming the coastal environment and past experience has demonstrated that sands on the beaches have been diminished and the impact of the reduction in sand on the rate of erosion of the cliffs and the reduction in available beaches for use by the public, which represents an open public space free of charge for leisure, entertainment and sport, there is in general no room for promoting new marinas."
The Subcommittee made an exception for Nahariya, where it said there was less concern about the erosion of the sands because of the different dominant sediment in the region. The subcommittee also recommending examining options for expanding six existing marinas in Akko, Haifa (Shavit), Herzliya. Tel Aviv (Atarim), Ashdod and Ashkelon and using existing quays at Tel Aviv Port and the nearby Reading power station.
For the five cities who lost out, the Subcommittee's decision is a painful blow. Construction of a new marina was seen by all of them as an anchor for major urban and economic development. They feel that the decision is not legitimate and plan fighting to get the decision reversed.
Netanya city engineer Erez Tal said, "The decision to back down from five marinas is not about planning but about an agenda. We wanted a 700 meters marina, or in other words 5% of the city's entire coastline. The argument that we are taking every centimeter is demagoguery. It is an argument that bows to trendiness. Somebody is selling candy and the public is buying it because they are all environmentalists and cool."
Bat Yam deputy mayor Eli Yariv sings from the same song sheet and says that the rejection of the marinas was a political decision aimed against former Minister of Transport Miri Regev, who promoted the plan. "The Ministry of Transport promoted this plan for four years and threw millions of shekels into it and thousands of hours of work. Then the same ministry comes along and cancels it. Why did they bother developing the plan at all, it's crazy."
Hadera Mayor Zvi Gendelman raises similar accusations. "The best minds and the best professionals sit down and then all the plans get thrown into the garbage can. It raises questions. The main issue that the opponents spoke about was the damage to the coastal environment. Three independent studies that were conducted found that there would be no significant change to the coastline if a marina was built in Hadera."
Haifa deputy mayor Nachshon Tzuk, who holds the transport portfolio, is disappointed. "We foresaw that there was a chance that this would not be approved and we have prepared to expand the existing the marina. Haifa will be damaged by this because the marina will not be large enough, although it would be preferable that everything was concentrated in one place."
Ministry of Transport: The coast is a national resource
The Ministry of Transport said, "The Minister of Transport and Road Safety MK Merav Michaeli supports protecting Israel's coast and marine space. Like open spaces the the beaches are also ours, and a national resource for the benefit of the public and it must receive protection and minimum damage. Any marina that will be constructed will only be built after careful planning and the demonstration of its national necessity, and only then if it doesn't damage the openness of the beaches to the general public. The decision taken by the committee is that expanding the existing marinas on Israel's coast should be considered and at the same time checking the plan to build only one new marina, with regard to the environmental effects.
Published by Globes, Israel business news - en.globes.co.il - on December 2, 2021.
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