Mayor claims withdrawal of olive grove draft ‘to block $25 bln port investment in Aegean district’
BALIKESİRThe withdrawal of a controversial draft law on olive groves has blocked a $25 billion port investment in a district of the Aegean province of Balıkesir, provincial mayor Ahmet Edip Uğur told daily Habertürk on June 21.
Parliament’s industry commission announced on June 13 that it omitted a contentious article that would have enabled the building of industrial facilities on olive groves in Turkey if the “public interest” can be imputed under the supervision of a preservation board from the draft law, less than a week after it had been withdrawn for a review amid rising concerns.
Uğur claimed that the billion dollar port investment in the Bandırma district was postponed due to the withdrawal of this draft.
“A $25 billion investment was planned in the region. Turkey should not miss this opportunity. The olive groves are on a huge plot of land. Turkey’s Kale Group, which created a joint venture with Rolls-Royce, was interested in making a defense investment here,” he said, adding that a chemistry giant also planned an investment.
Uğur added that investors have been waiting for the green light to start the Bandırma Port project.
“The huge area in which this investment was planned is located on hectares of land; on some part are olive groves with lower productivity. Bandırma is not like Ayvalık or Edremit, Turkey’s olive paradises. The productivity of our olive groves is quite low. In contrast, the planned Bandırma port would create exports worth $30 billion on annual basis,” he said.
Uğur noted that shore construction plans had been completed for the planned port.
“This can be a key logistics base especially for the chemicals sector. The [Trans-Anatolian Natural Gas Pipeline] TANAP project is also crossing through this region. An industrial zone and port project in Bandırma should have an empty area behind for a further extension, just like the Rotterdam Port in the Netherlands, where there are six oil refineries and nearly 50 chemicals facilities. The port is also very environmentally friendly as seals are swimming over its waters,” he said.