Keeping the Environment in Planning Decisions
Early this month Minister of the Interior Gideon Saar, at the direction of Binat Shwartz, Director of the Planning Authority, made a move to eliminate environmental representatives for Israel's planning subcommittees. These subcommittees have a great deal of influence over decisions made by the National Council for Planning and Construction. Removing environmental representatives from these committees silences many public interests and is likely to skew decision making toward private and business interests.
It was claimed that the change was made to "streamline" the decision making process. However, the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel, together with the Ministry of the Environment is against the change. Among representation that was to be removed from the committees was also the Minister of Health, and a reduction in representation for the Nature and Parks Authority.
Minister of the Environment Amir Peretz said, "There's a complete lack of consideration for the fundamental issues that the Ministry of Environment addresses. For example, they prefer building urban sprawl in populated areas, and are not willing to invest in urban revival which is not only necessary but cheaper."
SPNI spokesman Dov Greenblat was quoted, "This move will hurt the quality of life for all of us: in housing in transportation, in energy, in agriculture, in forests, in open spaces and in nature reserves, in water and in other fields."
Following the decision, the SPNI sent out a petition to our Israeli members to protest the change. SPNI was overwhelmed with the response, over 3,500 emails were sent as part of the petition. SPNI is proud that two of the four seats that were to be removed were saved.