New environment report prepared for Istanbul's third airport
The government goes ahead with a new Environmental Impact Assessment (ÇED) report for the third airport project, which is being built in a forested area of northern Istanbul close to the city’s last reservoirs.A new environmental approval report has been prepared for the third Istanbul airport project to bypass an old one that was suspended by a local court, but the critics of the project claim this new report is illegal.
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. Although the report is a legal obligation in order to obtain the green light for such infrastructure projects, the government had insisted that the suspension was temporary and it would not interfere with the airport’s construction.
The ruling mandates 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 new ÇED report has been prepared by the wining consortium of the project without waiting for the termination of this process, and a new report that was presented to the Transport Ministry on March 6 has been posted on the Environment Ministry’s website.
The report that will be discussed during an assessment meeting of the Environment Ministry on March 13 says changes needed to be made in the Environmental Plan and the construction and procedures will not begin until those changes have been made.
However, many analysts and environmental groups, who have been adamantly objecting to the project, say the new report, which is four times longer than the previous one, lacks legal basis and does not address the most crucial environmental damage the project could cause. “The report was based on an outdated Waste Water Deep Sea Discharge Circular, which was amended this year,” Environment Engineers Chamber (ÇMO) head Baran Bozoğlu said in a written statement, adding that there has been also no change regarding the project’s environmental problems.
Despite acknowledging some of these issues, the report has been criticized for not addressing major problematic issues such as the airfields being located on the route of birds’ migration paths and city complexes that will cause unplanned urbanization.
The report said that vehicular traffic is expected to jump 120 percent at the main artery in the region and is expected to add to the current pollution burden. It also noted that the project is expected to cause destruction to the local forestry areas and cause a drop in water levels in dams by causing the rivers’ rate of flow to decrease. Destruction of the aquatic life at the water ponds at the area was also noted in the report.