The Haifa District Planning and Building Committee has adopted the position of the Ministry of Environmental Protection (MoEP) to reject a plan to continue construction of the Carmel Beach Towers in Haifa. The plan by developers, including Delek Real Estate, included building four more structures. It would have required the sea to be dried up, in order to create a distance of at least 100 meters between the giant towers and the water line, as required by law. The committee also decided to prepare a rehabilitation program for the Haifa coast, where precious little sand remains.
Environmental Protection Minister Amir Peretz: "The decision that was taken is a significant one that sends a strong message: Protecting our coasts and preserving them as public property is a priority, despite both current and future financial pressures. We will not accept the threat that tourism in Israel will be hurt [if the towers aren’t built in this spot]. Tourism will also exist a few hundred meters from the sea."
Developers of the Carmel Beach Towers had proposed drying up the sea and extending the shoreline along a stretch of the beach, so that they could legally build their structures closer to the current coastline. This would have been the first time in Israel that a sea would be dried out for the purpose of building a hotel. The Haifa District Planning and Building Committee rejected the plan, as well as continuation of the project at its meeting on September 30, 2013.
Instead, the committee accepted the MoEP’s stance that all the southern beaches of Haifa, where sand lines are receding, must be treated and rehabilitated. And it decided that the Haifa municipality and the Carmel Beach Towers developers must submit a new building plan that would include that rehabilitation, and would create a quality beach for the public.
Each of the towers that had been planned was to be between 7 – 24 floors, around 60,000 square meters. Two such towers have already been built as part of the project, but the High Court eventually halted construction of the project after a petition was filed in 1996 by the Israel Union for Environmental Defense, among others.