Forestry law further denounced for allowing excavation waste to be poured into forests
CHP deputy Müslim Sarı has said the excavation material created from only the third bridge and connection roads would make for a hill of over 5,000-meters if it were poured into a football field.
Controversy is growing over changes to Turkey’s Forestry Law, as it has emerged that the new regulation also paves the way for the pouring of excavation waste into forests, in addition to allowing construction in them.
Amendments to three articles of the Forestry Law, which open the way for energy and infrastructure investments on around 21 million-hectares of green lands across the country, were introduced after being published in the Official Gazette on April 18.
The legislation will allow oil exploration, construction of energy facilities such as power plants and pipelines in forested areas, as well as major transportation investments, social facilities and underground storage plants.
Aiming to sooth escalating concerns about the law’s effects, the Environment Ministry issued a statement claiming that the changes would not harm forests.
However, critics of the law have become even more concerned as details of the articles have revealed that the new legislation also authorizes contractors to deposit earthwork materials created from facilities in forests.
Northern Istanbul forests big concern
Main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) Istanbul deputy Müslim Sarı has warned that the consequences of the regulation are “hugely dangerous,” according to daily Hürriyet.
“The excavation material created from only the third bridge and connection roads would make for a hill of over 5,000-meters if it were poured into a football field,” Sarı said to illustrate the extent of the damage that such practices could cause.
“Think about this much material being poured into forests. The Istanbul forests will be ruined, and we will particularly see the results of this in the northern basin,” he added, referring to the leafy area north of the city, which the third airport and third bridge projects will infringe on.
“The earthwork from the transportation projects will create a serious problem,” Sarı also stated, claiming that the law would “turn forests into garbage dumps.”
Dumping site problems
The lack of sufficient dumping sites for excavators has become a major problem in Istanbul, which has experienced a massive construction boom in recent years, particularly with major transportation projects.
In September, around 2,000 excavation truckers staged a road-blocking protest on the Fatih Sultan Mehmet Bridge connecting the European and Asian sides of the city, demanding a new site.
Istanbul Mayor Kadir Topbaş, who was re-elected in the March 30 elections, had vowed to create “new dumping sites.”
The recent legal change is the most recent step taken in the Turkish government’s construction-oriented development program, being the 10th change made in the Forestry Law in the past 10 years. Each of these changes has extended the scope of areas opened for construction.