Court halts rapid expropriation for Istanbul’s third airport

Court halts rapid expropriation for Istanbul’s third airport

Oya Armutçu – ANKARA
Court halts rapid expropriation for Istanbul’s third airport A Council of State board has halted the execution of a cabinet decision on rapid expropriation of the land for Istanbul’s third airport project to the north of the city, determining there was no reasoning of the “defense of the country” in the case.
“In this case, there is no legal point in rejecting the demand to halt the execution of a rapid expropriation,” said the ruling, which also referred to the law which states there should be a public interest in cases of rapid expropriation. 

Any immovable property may be seized in cases of expropriation subject to a cabinet decree for national defense or an emergency situation, such as a natural disaster, according to Article 27 of the Turkish Expropriation Law.

Istanbul Bar Association Environment and City Law Commission President Alev Seher Tuna said the decision was submitted to them by the court, as they have filed a complaint demanding the halt of execution of expropriation.
“We had demanded the court cancel the cabinet decree of rapid expropriation saying that there is no threat of a ‘war’ situation. The Council of State’s 6th Board rejected it. We objected once again and the plenary session has approved our demand. Now we will wait for the 6th Board’s decision. We are hopeful about the judicial procedures,” said Tuna. 

The government made changes to the law on the expropriation of land in emergency situations, such as natural disasters or war, in 2011, after an earthquake in the southeastern province of Van. It was claimed the massive damage in the city had been caused by widespread illegal construction, which was halted by introducing a law permitting the government to rebuild such buildings. 

According to the amendment, rapid expropriation can be considered in three situations: After natural disasters, at times where there is a risk of a natural disaster or by a cabinet decision if it is for the public good. Since the amendment passed, the third criterion has been widely used by the government for its development projects, at the expense of environmental damage.

The third airport under construction to the north of Istanbul will have a capacity of 150 million passengers when it becomes fully operational.

The controversial facility will become not only Istanbul’s largest airport but also one of the world’s major hubs. Its construction in one of the city’s most fragile natural areas, however, has drawn criticism from activists, who denounced a culture of plunder and destruction. 

The Cengiz-Kolin-Limak-Mapa-Kalyon Consortium, a joint venture of Turkish companies, won a tender for the third Istanbul airport in May 2013, promising to pay the state 22.1 billion euros, plus taxes, over 25 years, starting in 2017.