From daily Haaretz in Israel:
Israeli greens up in arms over building plans on last stretch of major sand dunes
By Zafrir Rinat
Dec.18, 2012 | 8:07 AM
The Southern District Planning and Building Committee on Monday approved a controversial plan to build an industrial park on the sand dunes south of Ashdod, overriding the objections of environmental organizations.
The green groups claim the project will cause severe damage to the last major stretch of dunes on the coastal plain.
The planned industrial park, which will cater to high-tech firms, will encompass an area of 400 dunams (100 acres), of which 130 dunams will actually be built on. One part of the site is near the Ashdod train station, while another is deep within an open area adjacent to the Great Dune, which environmental groups have saved from previous development plans.
The Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel and the Public Forum for the Environment in Ashdod both opposed the plan, saying it would harm the dunes and their rich variety of unique flora and fauna. With their encouragement, some 3,000 people ultimately submitted objections to the plan.
But after discussing these objections the regional zoning panel voted unanimously to approve the industrial park. …
But green groups say the project will still cause enormous environmental damage. Even if part of the dunes are left untouched, they say, the area will still be changed beyond recognition. In addition, the noise, bright lights and vehicular traffic of the industrial park will disturb the wild animals living in the vicinity.
The organizations had proposed alternative sites in Ashdod for the project, but the zoning panel said that the possible existence of additional building sites in the city does not obviate the need to develop this site.
In a response SPNI said the project would “reduce open, natural spaces that are home to a wide variety of flora and fauna and damage the largest concentration of sycamore fig trees in the belt of sycamore figs between the Dan region and Ashkelon. This is a unique habitat, resembling nowhere else in Israel. Most of Israel’s dune areas have [been given up for] the coastal cities and for industrial development and military facilities. The remaining sand is being depleted rapidly for use in construction and it is important to preserve what remains.”