03/06/2012 03:12
Appeal argues the project would cause irreversible damage to the area at the expense of future generations.
Timna Valley’s Sasgon Valley By Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel
The Environmental Protection Ministry, the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel and Mayor Yehiel Zohar of Netivot submitted a joint appeal on Monday to the National Planning and Building Council against the December decision of the Southern District Planning Committee to authorize the construction of a resort hotel in the Sasgon Valley.

Arguing that the resort would be an “ambitious project” located “in the heart of a sensitive and unique desert area,” the appeal said that building a hotel in this region would cause irreversible damage to the area at the expense of future generations.

The complainants also charged that the planning of the project was occurring in an irresponsible manner and adhering to archaic and old-fashioned standards.

Despite public opposition, expected environmental damage and even a court ruling on the subject, the committee is still continuing with plans to build the hotel, the appeal argued.

When the Southern District Committee first approved the resort in mid-December, Environmental Protection Minister Gilad Erdan had promised that his ministry would do everything that it could to “undermine the decision and activate all means possible in order to prevent the destruction of nature and unique landscape.”

For years, the issue of building a resort in the Sasgon Valley, which is located within the Timna Valley, has been under dispute. In 2008, Adam Teva V’Din – The Israel Union for Environmental Defense first petitioned plans for development in the area, after which the court ruled that the initial approval process had been flawed and must be returned for further review in the district committee.

Following a court order, Ethos environmental consulting group carried out a thirdparty survey that examined alternatives for the region and also determined that the Sasgon land is “rare at a national level, an area that has not yet been breached by human activities,” according to Adam Teva V’Din.

The three bodies filing Monday’s appeal also stressed that the planning process contained errors, and slammed the committee for ignoring the recommendations of the third-party report and not considering the alternatives that the committee itself prepared.

“The committee’s procedures were filled with errors and were unreasonable, disproportionate and illogical, ultimately leading to the approval of an option in an environmentally destructive location,” the groups said in a joint statement.