For two days this week, at Jerusalem’s Conference Centre, the first Jerusalem Environment and Nature Conference took place. You can read a preview post here.
For this Green Prophet correspondent and greenie, it wasn’t the dull political speeches and pontificating that mattered (all of the politicians who showed up, spoke and left immediately, kindly donated their hot air to warm the conference attendees who shivered in fierce air-con), but the networking opportunities (as well as the great lunch!) and the chance to hear about some of the environmental campaigns being waged around the country by local activists.
Among those displaying pictures and info about their campaigns and any success or failures, were the campaign to save the Timna Mines area just north of Eilat (read a GP post about this here), and the Neve Yaacov Wildflower Sanctuary, which will be featured here in a special post soon.
Another local campaign which deserves attention is the 531 Tunnel Action Committee, which is protesting against the proposed new road, the 531, which would link road 6, the North-South Highway, to the Ayalon highway and the coastal road between Tel Aviv and Haifa.
According to the action committee’s publicity, “Road 531 will produce intolerable levels of air and noise pollution (according to the calculations of the National Road Company’s own experts!) – at some points along the road, in certain recurring weather conditions, poisonous nitric oxide is likely to be three times the level permitted by the national standard (which is well below the US and European standards).”
The Action Committee assert that the new road (which would be created on agricultural land) would take a wide swathe of land, creating a real physical barrier between towns and villages, and damage the natural scenery of the Sharon area forever. The proposed road would be a 2 direction, 3 lane highway.
But the Action Committee are not just against the road, they are proposing that it be built within a traffic tunnel, and have made their own planning and feasability assessments to strengthen the argument: this would reduce by (up to) 60% the total land area needed for construction, and make savings in land expropriation costs, and savings in compensation claimed by those living near the proposed road.
The Committee disagrees with the Government proposals to impose speed restrictions on the road. They have joined forces with the municipalities of Raanana and Herzilya, through whose municipal boundaries the proposed road will go; and the Israel Union for Environmental Defense ‘Adam Teva v’Din,’ and in January lodged an appeal with the High Court against the Government’s proposed road. The Committee want to maintain and preserve a “pollution-free environment”, and seek to find a solution that acknowledges the need for new National Infrastructure, but not at the cost to the health, well-being and cohesiveness of this tiny Nation.
Green Prophet salutes the campaign. Please keep us informed of progress. And if any readers live near the site of the proposed road or are affected by it, please leave a comment below.
To conclude with a note to the conference organisers: Thank you, and wishing great success for the future, but get the activists around the planning table for next year, and put less emphasis on what the politicians can or can’t do for the environment. They will change and be replaced: those who love the environment will remain.
Read more about the Campaign by the ‘531 Tunnel Action Committee’ at www.derech531.co.il (Hebrew site)