NATIONAL OUTLINE SCHEMES

National outline schemes are prepared for land uses and projects of national significance. Environmental aspects are integrated into all relevant national schemes; in some cases they are the dominant considerations. In 1993 alone, Ministry of the Environment representatives participated in the preparation of the following plans: power supply, airports, ports, roads and interchanges (including the Trans-Israel Highway); water and wastewater; afforestation; tourism and recreation; and storage of liquified petroleum gas (LPG).

With the exception of the National Outline Scheme for Immigrant Absorption, which was commissioned in order to coordinate development for the rapid absorption of immigrants from the former Soviet Union, national outline schemes generally fall into six different categories:

1. Infrastructure plans which are of national significance, such as plans for power stations, ports, and airports;

2. Infrastructure plans which are to be integrated within the framework of a national network, such as plans for roads, railways, and transmission lines;

3. Plans which define criteria and designate sites for the provision of essential goods and services, such as plans for quarries and building materials, waste disposal sites, water catchment basins and aquifer recharge areas, cemeteries, and prisons;

4. Plans which set standards and guidelines which are then interpreted into sites in regional and local plans, such as plans for population distribution, public institutions, tourism and recreation, and gas stations;

5. Plans which protect specific resources considered to be of high value as part of the national natural and cultural heritage, such as plans for nature reserves and national parks, natural and manmade forests, and memorial and historic sites;

6. Plans for particularly sensitive or problematic areas warranting special attention by the National Board, such as plans for the Mediterranean coastal area, Lake Kinneret (Sea of Galilee) shores, the Gulf of Eilat, and Haifa Bay.

Following are several examples of national outline schemes in which environmental considerations play a major role:

National Outline Scheme for Power Stations

This scheme deals with the location and operation of power stations for electricity production and supply throughout the country. Environmental considerations are incorporated in the plan’s regulations on siting, construction and operation of the power plants. Siting considerations incorporate such subjects as the carrying capacity of the coastal airshed, the ability of the atmosphere to disperse pollutants and impacts on the coastal and marine environments. Operational requirements specify the ongoing measures necessary to ensure that environmental impacts will be minimal. Such measures include: air pollution monitoring, threshold levels for pollutant concentrations and inspection authorities.

The plan for the Hadera coal-fired power station included the first statutory example of "environmental compensation." It linked the construction of the plant to establishment of a park for Hadera residents as compensation for the siting of the power station adjacent to the town. This principle was followed with the next power station site at Ashkelon, where the town was compensated by funds for a marina project, to ensure that its tourist industry would not be damaged by the construction of the power station.

National Outline Scheme for Airports

All plans for airports, including the Ben-Gurion International Airport, include measures for noise abatement. Flight paths are determined not only by aircraft and safety requirements but also by alignments designed to reduce the number of residential units exposed to high noise levels. Wherever possible, residential or noise-sensitive uses are not permitted in areas exposed to noise levels above 65 LDN. Acoustic measures are required for new dwellings in areas exposed to noise levels just below 65 LDN. The plan includes ongoing monitoring and enforcement procedures and establishes the authorities responsible for implementation.

National Outline Scheme for the Mediterranean Coast

In recognition of the national value of Israel’s coastline, the National Planning and Building Board ordered the preparation of national plans for all of the country’s sea and lake shores in 1970. The first stage of the National Outline Scheme for the Mediterranean Coast was approved in 1983. Its main features included: prevention of development which is unrelated to the coast; protection of large sections of the coastline as nature reserves, national parks and coastal reserves; and allocation of coastal areas for tourism and recreation activities. The masterplan includes a highly effective clause prohibiting development within 100 meters of the coastline.

To help provide a comprehensive long-term guide to planning policy, beyond the general guidelines in the approved masterplan, the National Board commissioned a more detailed document for the resource management of the Mediterranean coastline for tourist and recreation activities. The plan, prepared by the Ministry of the Environment and recently approved by the National Board, bases development policies on principles of suitability and sensitivity of coastal resources. Suitability for tourist and recreation development was assessed on the basis of geological, vegetation and landscape surveys; the allocation of the level of intensity of development for each site along the Mediterranean coastline was checked in relation to resource sensitivity. Four levels of development were subsequently defined for beaches and their immediate hinterland, four levels of intensity of accommodation, and three levels of development of hinterland day-visitor areas. The overall national policies proposed for resource management of the coast include:

* Development which is not for recreation or tourism should not be permitted along the coast and its immediate hinterland;

* Policies for resource protection should range from absolute protection within a designated reserve to the identification of sensitive resources to be considered within the detailed plan for site development;

* Highly intensive uses should be confined to existing urban centers;

* Offshore construction for recreation and water sport activities should be restricted to urban centers;

* A public footpath should be designated along the coastline to ensure public access by foot to and along the coastline.

National Outline Scheme for Immigrant Absorption

The most recently approved masterplana scheme for immigrant absorptionis noteworthy for its integration of substantial environmental management and resource protection measures. It sets a precedent for future plans by ensuring that the environmental implications of planning proposals will be considered as an integral part of the planning process.

Recognition of the need to coordinate planning efforts by all sectors of government in order to absorb the hundreds of thousands of immigrants which have poured into Israel since 1989 led the National Planning and Building Board to commission a National Outline Scheme for Immigrant Absorption in June 1990. This represented the first time that various subjects, previously addressed within the framework of sectorial masterplans, were integrated within one outline scheme. The scheme, approved by the National Board in August 1992 and by the government in January 1993, sets out directives on development and management of the country’s resources during a period of accelerated development and immigrant absorption.

It is to Israel’s credit that despite the flurry of planning and building, environmental quality was recognized as a key component of the plan throughout all the stages of its preparation. An environmental guidelines map accompanies the plan as a statutory document. Based on an evaluation of the sensitivity of areas to development, the map displays environmental constraints and restrictions on residential development. It denotes areas in which building should not be permitted, namely areas of high natural and landscape value designated for protection, and areas exposed to environmental deterioration such as noise, air pollution or risks. It also designates areas where development would be permitted provided measures are taken to prevent environmental degradation, such as areas of high sensitivity to water pollution.

The planning documents give strong emphasis to environmental management principles, including:

* Development should be confined to existing urban settlements, using existing infrastructures;

* Rural development should be limited to minor expansion of existing settlements, within an overall policy of open space protection of rural agricultural landscapes;

* High quality areas of natural and landscape value should be strictly protected;

* Development should not be permitted in areas exposed to environmental degradation;

* Development must be accompanied by the adequate provision of facilities for sewage treatment;

* Development of industrial parks must include regulations to prevent environmental pollution.

The National Outline Scheme for Immigrant Absorption is accompanied by a non-statutory development plan designed to help guide the investment decisions of the various sectorial ministries. It includes investment priorities for sewage treatment facilities and for solid waste disposal sites.

National Outline Scheme for Transportation (Road #6)

To speed up the development of the national transportation system, the National Board decided to prepare a masterplan for roads, at a detailed level of planning, within the framework of the immigrant absorption masterplan. The approved plan relates to a large number of national roads outside built-up urban areasthe most controversial of which is the Trans-Israel Highway (Road #6). The road is envisioned as the major road artery in Israel, linking the Galilee and the Negev to the center of the country. It is to be the largest public works project in the country’s history.

The proposed highway has raised a number of environmental objections:

* Rather than promoting public transportation, the road will give priority to the private car as the main means of transportation in coming years.

* The road will impact upon land-use planning in its environs. Accessibility to metropolitan areas and availability of land may lead to unwelcome development from the national and local points of view.

* The road will reduce the open space left in the central region of the country, where demand for land is high and land reserves are few.

* The project is land-intensive. The width of the road strip along the planned area exceeds 100 meters; at least 10 hectares of land will be required for each kilometer of length; and between 20-100 hectares of land will be taken up by each interchange.

* Potential environmental problems may include noise and air pollution and visual blight.

While the Ministry of the Environment is convinced that an overall review of transportation policy, taking into account environmental considerations and mass transportation needs, is imperative, it is also cognizant of the vital need to improve the road system in Israel. Therefore, it has taken an active part in the planning of the highway from the outset under the conviction that the incorporation of environmental measures into the detailed planning of the road and its junctions can minimize damage to natural and landscape resources and reduce the exposure of nearby settlements to noise and air pollution.

Consequently, the ministry checked initial proposals and made recommendations to the planning teams; it called for the preparation of five EISs on particularly problematic sections; it required environmental studies for additional sections where potential landscape or noise impacts were anticipated; it reviewed the documents submitted by the road-planning teams; and it participated in the decision-making process of the National Planning and Building Board.

Indeed, many of the recommendations made by the Ministry of the Environment were accepted by the National Board in its recent endorsement of various sections of the road. These included the ministry’s demand that a comprehensive review of transportation systems and policy in Israel, including rail, subway and other forms of public transportation, be prepared, as well as the ministry’s request for a land-use plan along the road corridor (5 kilometers along each side) to guide land-use changes. The National Board has not yet accepted the ministry’s request for approval of the road in stages, in order to allow for decisions on further expansion of the road versus the development of alternative transportation means at various stages of construction. At the time of writing of this report, the ministry remains hopeful that the National Board will decide in favor of approval of the road in stages.

National Outline Scheme for Afforestation

Growing environmental awareness and concern over the fate of Israel’s diminishing open spaces in the face of accelerated development have accelerated the completion and approval in principle of a national masterplan on forests and natural woodlands. The masterplan seeks to balance the conflicting demands of development and recreation with those of conservation of natural vegetation and open spaces.

The plan relates to afforestation plans for the next 20-25 years. Criteria for the selection of locations and for the determination of types of forest are based on two main factors: general siting considerations (e.g. priority to areas unsuitable for cultivation) and suitability of selected sites to specific types of forest. The plan establishes eight categories of forest including: existing man-planted forests, natural woodlands for conservation, proposed man-planted forests, natural woodlands to be maintained and developed, existing park forests, proposed park forests, coastal park forests and riparian plantings.

Afforestation is proposed for sites throughout the country in accordance with existing conditions in each area, the regeneration potential of the natural vegetation in a specific ecosystem and geobotanic location, the restoration potential of existing forests, and requirements for new forests to meet growing recreation and tourism needs.

National Outline Scheme for Water, Sewage and Drainage

The National Board commissioned a masterplan for Israel’s water system in 1993. Its goal: to designate sites and establish regulations on facilities for water use and supply, to protect water sources and prevent pollution, and to ensure appropriate sewage treatment, effluent reuse and drainage management.

The first stage of the plan, now in preparation, relates to sites for wastewater treatment and disposal; options for recharge areas, storage basins and pipelines for effluent reuse; constraints on land uses in areas sensitive to water pollution; restrictions on the expansion of settlements which do not have suitable wastewater facilities; and incentives for effluent reuse. A steering committee, including representatives of government and environmental bodies, is accompanying the preparation of the plan.

Israel 2020: A Long-Range Masterplan for Israel

Since the mid 1960s, Israel’s population has nearly doubled, but, due to rising living standards, the built-up area has quadrupled. From a sparsely-populated country with 800,000 residents spread over 21,000 square kilometers in the late 1940s, Israel today has become a densely-populated nation, in which 92% of its 5 million inhabitants live in an area which covers only 40% of the land area. Over the next thirty years, Israel may again double its present population and treble its built-up area. Increased stress will be placed on a diminishing pool of land resources.

Most national plans to date have been sectorial; the country lacks a comprehensive long-range plan to guide its development. However, the recent influx of Jews into Israel from the former Soviet Union and from Ethiopia, the peace process and the transformation of Israel into a post-industrial society have made the preparation of a long-range national plan imperative.

The call for the preparation of a long-range masterplan was given to the Israeli government by the nation’s leading planners, architects and engineers in 1989. A professional team was assembled including leading professionals and researchers from the academic community and representatives of government bodies. The project officially began in May 1991. It aims to prepare comprehensive and non-statutory strategic documents which will form a framework for national plans for the next 30 years.

The project adopted a three-stage methodology. During the first stage

(completed), a broad spectrum of forecasts for Israel’s future was outlined and analyzed from various perspectives and disciplines. During the second stage (nearing completion at the time of going to press), the knowledge accumulated is being synthesized into a number of alternative integrated planning directions for the state’s future development. Each alternative has a different focuseconomic development, social issues, protection of open spaces, and an alternative based on the continuation of current trends. Special teams were set up to study environmental and transportation issues. During the third stage, these alternatives will be evaluated and the preferred alternative developed into a set of policy recommendations.

Ten projects formed the substantive and empirical foundations for the planning. They included: society and demography, land, energy and water resources, future technologies, environmental sustainability, transport and telecommunication and security.

The environmental team identified the problems and conflicts likely to be of concern in 2020, taking into account anticipated population and economic growth:

1. The scope of the built-up area and density will increase, especially in the center of the country, making land a very scarce resource.
2. The scope of transportation, both inland and international, will grow with a major rise in motor transportation.
3. Water demand for non-agricultural use will grow.
4. Total emissions resulting from human activity will grow, including domestic and industrial waste and wastewater and air pollution, mostly from vehicular sources. This will further aggravate environmental problems in the realms of water quality, air quality, hazardous substances, solid waste and noise.

The report produced by the environmental team suggests means of approaching these problems, both from operative and conceptual viewpoints, harnessing regulative and market mechanisms.