Urbanization plan canceled for Bozcaada, says Turkish environment minister

Urbanization plan canceled for Bozcaada, says Turkish environment minister

Erdinç Çelikkan ANKARA
Urbanization plan canceled for Bozcaada, says Turkish environment minister A plan that would pave the way for widespread construction on the Aegean island of Bozcaada, one of Turkey’s untouched tourism destinations, has been canceled, Environment and Urbanization Minister İdris Güllüce has said.

The Environment Ministry has made a new arrangement and reversed all development decisions for the island so that the idyll does not become the site of massive construction, Güllüce said.

A new urbanization plan for the western provinces of Çanakkale and Balıkesir which paved the way to opening Bozcaada to vast construction projects was announced in September 2014.

The plan projected granting licenses to build new “vineyard houses” and “agricultural plants” on almost 90 percent of the island’s territories.

The move came after Bozcaada locals reacted against a smaller plan revealed in 2013, having filed a legal complaint in a bid to cancel the plan.

The new plan, which automatically canceled the plan from 2013, heightened concerns, as it foresaw the Aquarium Bay, a sun-kissed beach currently open to the public, as an “urban development area.” The eastern parts of the island were also marked as “tourism facilities area” in the new plan.

Güllüce said they evaluated the objections made about the plan and decided there was no need for new development areas based on the population forecast of the islands of Bozcaada and Gökçeada, an island north west of Bozcaada, for 2040.

“We lifted all the development decisions except the approved sub-scaled plan decisions,” said Güllüce.
Stating that supplementary arrangements were made to preserve the agricultural lands on both of the islands, Güllüce said organized agricultural and stockbreeding areas were planned.

“Organized agricultural and stockbreeding areas were envisaged to prevent separate industrial areas from pressuring agricultural lands in the planning region,” said Güllüce.

Güllüce said a new regulation was made to prohibit the construction of buildings for the sake of housing on absolute agricultural lands so that the lands would not face construction pressure.

He added that they had taken the objections about the “vineyard houses on the island into consideration and omitted the clause.

Previously in October 2014, Bozcaada Mayor Hakan Can Yılmaz said they welcomed the idea of a referendum offered by the urban planning minister regarding the new urbanization plan, adding that more than 1,000 petitions had been submitted against the plan.