Further land reclamation planned for Hopa coastline despite environmental concerns

Turkey's Environment and Urbanization Ministry is planning to extend Hopa coastline farther out to sea in an attempt to build a fairground on the new space. NGOs and local movements however challenge the new project saying that it will further deteriorate the natural landscape and create environmental degradation in the region.

Eren Dağıstanlı / Duvar

Turkey's Environment and Urbanization Ministry plans to undertake a new land reclamation work along the coastline of the Hopa district in the Black Sea province of Artvin. A fairground is sought to be built on the new space although land reclamation of the coastal shore is known to be a major threat to environment in the region.

There has been already a major reclamation of land along the Hopa coastline by filling the sea, which led to formation of cafes and parks on the new space; so locals are puzzled about the need for another such project.

'Project does not have environmental clearance'

A 3.5-km section of the coastline is planned to extend further to the sea with the new project, which will provide an additional 34.4 hectares of urban construction land.

Kamil Ustabaş, the Hope representative of “Halkevleri” (“The People's Houses"), said that this project is “the seizure of Hopa locals' right to live.” He said that authorities will want to establish quarries in Hopa just to extract the rocks to fill the sea with. “What will Hopa locals do after the new sea-filling project, will they go and see the sea with a taxi?” he asked.

Volkan Bilgin, a former board member of the Ankara branch of the Turkish Chamber of Survey and Cadastre Engineers (HKMO), said that the project does not have an environmental clearance as it does not have have an environmental impact assessment (EIA) report.

“This plan does not even fulfill this requirement from the beginning. The existing mapping information in the plan is not up-to-date; the project has mistakes and there are other missing information,” he said.

'New quarries will be opened'

According to the plan, a 250,000 square meter section of the sea will be filled, which corresponds to the size of 30 football fields, said Bilgin. “Do you know what this means? It means that 67,500 trucks will wander around Hopa streets; that new quarries will be opened; that Hopa, whose connection with the sea has been already cut with the Black Sea Coastal Highway Project, will no longer be a coastal town,” he said.

The Union of Chambers of Turkish Engineers and Architects (TMMOB)'s Istanbul Provincial Coordination Commission Secretary Efe Akçelik recalled that land reclamation undertaken during the Black Sea Highway Project is a contributing factor to severe flash floods in the region. He said that the authorities have “not received their lesson from these floods.”

He said that the new planned project violates the rule that “coastlines need to serve the public welfare” and emphasized the risk of formation of new quarries in the region. “Another danger here is that new quarries will be opened to acquire the filling material,” he said.