Stay of execution ruling for Istanbul’s 3rd airport project lifted amid controversy
Serkan OCAK ISTANBUL / Radikal
The Istanbul Regional Administrative Court annulled the stay of execution on March 11, after the Ministry of Environment and Urban Planning took the case to appeal. HÜRRİYET photoA regional court has lifted a ruling to suspend the construction of Istanbul’s third airport project over objections related to an environmental approval report.
Istanbul’s Fourth Administrative Court had ordered a stay of execution of the Environmental Impact Assessment (ÇED) report issued by the Environment Ministry on Jan. 21, after taking into consideration objections from four citizens residing in nearby districts who filed a lawsuit.
The ruling mandated the suspension of all physical operations on the airport’s earmarked land pending a contrary decision in order to allow specialists to review the extent of the project’s environmental risks.
However, the Istanbul Regional Administrative Court annulled the stay of execution on March 11, after the Ministry of Environment and Urban Planning took the case to appeal.
“Stopping the execution of a project, which was not clearly determined as illegal, at this stage has not been found to conform to law, as it will cause a long delay [in the construction],” the court said in its ruling.
It added that a new review by experts would not “stop the impact of the project.”
Lawyers representing the plaintiffs said the court’s ruling was also unlawful and contrary to internal regulations.
“Administrative courts do not rule on any stay of execution issued as a precaution by other courts. There is jurisprudence and a lot of examples on this. But here, a higher court swiftly makes a decision and lifts the stay of execution ruling of a lower court,” said lawyer Alp Tekin Ocak.
“There wasn’t any inconvenience to wait when you think about the fact that a centimeter of soil is formed in 10,000 years. The area where the third airport will be built is a very important to the ecosystem in Istanbul. Getting rid of this ecosystem will also pave the way for more urbanization,” he added.
The new ÇED report on the project had also caused controversy, as it was prepared by the winning consortium without waiting for the termination of this process.
Despite acknowledging some of the issues environmentalists have raised, the report was criticized for not addressing major problematic issues, such as the airfield’s being located on the route of bird migration paths and city complexes that will cause unplanned urbanization.
Istanbul’s new airport has been promoted as one of the largest in the world and the government expects over 100 million passengers to travel through it every year.