Northern district planning committee ignores expert’s objections that the installations will be noisy and block views of historic Jezreel Valley farmland – Haaretz
Zafrir Rinat | Dec. 31, 2019

Israeli authorities have approved the construction of over a dozen wind turbines in the Jezreel Valley, even though a committee-appointed investigator recommended rejecting the plan due to concerns that the installations would ruin the landscape and cause noise pollution.

The investigator’s recommendation was voted down last week because the chairman of the Northern District Planning and Construction Committee, Uri Ilan, used his authorized double vote.

The plans were advanced by the EDF and Blue Sky companies to build 16 wind turbines in the valley that will produce a total of 64 megawatts of power.

Eleven of the installations would be placed near the communities of Geva and Kfar Yehezkel. Arab residents in two nearby villages likely to be effected weren’t consulted about the project, investigator Adam Colmansaid.

After objections were filed to the plans, the committee appointed a planner to evaluate them. Proposed wind turbine projects for Israel have faced many objections in the past.

Opponents said the public was not sufficiently involved in the planning process, and that the concerns of residents in two Arab villages in the area, Sulam and Na’ura, were totally ignored.

Colman recommended not approving the plans for the turbines that would also be erected near Geva and Kfar Yehezkel, saying that the planning authorities had designated those areas as preservation-worthy because of their landscape typical of the early agricultural settlement era.

“The size of the turbines and their regional impact are so broad that [they dwarf] every other structure in the area,” Colman said.

But the majority on the committee, as a result of the chairman’s double vote, rejected Colman’s assessments as subjective. Some members countered that the turbines would help preserve the unique landscape by preventing other construction in that area.

In his report, Colman agreed with residents that community involvement in the plan had been deficient. The developers claimed they had followed Environmental Protection Ministry instructions and distributed questionnaires to residents and held a meeting about the project.

Colman said the information that was provided was unclear and that the questionnaires were distributed to only a small number of people. He recommended making changes to this process in the future. He agreed that Arab residents were not involved in the process, but did not consider that a sufficient reason to reject the plans.

Colman said that not enough consideration had been given to the effect that noise from the turbines would have on those working in nearby fields. The district committee ruled that the task force overseeing the plans’ implementation would examine whether the noise had any effects on workers’ health, or at a nearby school.

Israel green lights hundreds of wind turbines in north – Jerusalem Post

The agreement will enable the development of several projects in northern Israel, the ministries said, which are currently in the project planning phase and will be implemented in the coming years.

Plans to construct hundreds of wind turbines in northern Israel were granted government approval on Wednesday, boosting renewable energy production while answering security needs.

The green light was given after an agreement was reached between the Energy Ministry, Defense Ministry, Finance Ministry and the Electricity Authority.

Under the agreement, the ministries will invest NIS 250 million in developing technologies to ensure that the construction of the wind turbine farms will not impact security considerations.

The agreement will enable the development of several projects in northern Israel, the ministries said, which are currently in the project planning phase and will be implemented in the coming years.

“The Defense Ministry sees great importance in promoting renewable energy projects,” said Defense Ministry director-general Maj.-Gen. (res.) Udi Adam.

“From an enabling point of view, we invested significant resources in advancing the agreement; and together with the IDF, we agreed to take calculated risks to enable it to be implemented.”

The technological development aspect of the agreement, Adam said, “creates the right balance between security needs and energy and environmental protection needs.”

Israel targeted the conversion of 10% of the country’s electricity supply to renewable energies by 2020, and is aiming for a cumulative reduction of 17% by 2030.

In November, Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz vowed that Israel will move into a coal-free era of power production by the end of 2025, five years earlier than originally targeted. Electricity production from coal has been halved since 2015, according to the Energy Ministry, as Israel increasingly relies on its domestic supply of natural gas.

“The Energy Ministry is working in every way to promote renewable energies in Israel,” said Energy Ministry director-general Udi Adiri. “Promoting renewable energy requires facing many challenges, including security, economic and planning challenges. The agreement that has been signed removes one of the major difficulties facing this sector from the table.”

Disagreements between defense officials and wind farm developers have not been limited to Israel, due to possible interference caused by turbines to radar capabilities, air force operations, communications and other military needs.

Israel’s latest project will likely draw opposition from local environmental groups, arguing that wind farms can harm birds and other wildlife.