The National Planning and Building Council rejected a plan on Tuesday for building six new marinas along the Mediterranean coast, but approved a new marina in Nahariya in the far north.
A subcommittee of the council accepted the objections from the Environmental Protection Ministry and environmental organizations, deciding the plan would prevent the public from accessing public beaches and cause environmental damage. The Transportation Ministry and local governments where the marinas would have been built supported the plans.
The Transportation Ministry’s Shipping and Ports Authority and the Planning Administration recommended that six new marinas be built in Nahariya, Haifa (Bat Galim), Hadera, Netanya, Tel Aviv and Bat Yam – which would provide 3,400 new berths for boats. The new moorages would have been located along beaches that are now open to the public.
The head of the planning team, Edna Lerman, said in the subcommittee meeting on Tuesday that the locations marked in the plan were not final, and their effects on the landscape and environment would be studied at a later time.
Dalit Zilber, director general of the Planning Administration, said during the meeting that the shore belongs to the public and “is a limited resource, and needs to serve the entire public – and not just be a parking lot for yachts.” Israel’s population is expected to double, so it is even more important to ensure that the beaches remain open for the public in future generations, said Zilber.
The Environmental Protection Ministry warned during the meeting against a disappearance of parts of the shoreline and of broad damage to ecological systems in marine nature reserves. The ministry presented an expert opinion that said existing marinas built in Israel in the 1990s – in Herzliya, Ashdod and Ashkelon – never became centers for tourism and economic activities.
The professional staff in the Environmental Protection Ministry warned that except for Haifa and Nahariya, all the other marinas would affect the nearby beaches, because they would disrupt the natural flow of sand in the area. “In order to deal with this problem and protect the nearby beaches, it will be necessary to construct another breakwater next to the moorages, but they will cause a shortage of sand on beaches further away.”
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Representatives of the six cities involved, including four mayors, spoke at the meeting in support of the plan, saying the construction of the marinas was essential for the development of tourism and to strengthen education and water sports. Miriam Feirberg, the mayor of Netanya, said the city deserved a prize for rehabilitating the waste site next to the beach where the marina is supposed to be built. “At the moment, we don’t have any economic and tourist stimulus for the beach,” she said.
Haifa Mayor Einat Kalisch-Rotem said, “It is impossible to conduct marine education alongside chemical and fuel piers. A lot of people are craving to experience the culture of the sea, and we need to allow them to do so.”
Transportation Minister Merav Michaeli said last week that she is “vehemently opposed to any plan that will harm Israel’s beaches where construction and development has been done irresponsibly for years.” Michaeli, being responsible for her ministry’s Shipping and Ports Authority, had the authority to stop the plan, but the Shipping Authority continued to support the new marinas, along with the education and tourism ministries.