Turkey's Council of State suspends controversial 'Green Road' project

Turkey’s Council of State, the highest administrative court in the country, has granted a stay of execution for the construction of a 2,600-kilometer highway seeking to connect plateaus of eight provinces in the Black Sea region. The top court said that the project would damage the “uniqueness” of the plateaus in question and lead to an irreversible ecological destruction.

Ogün Akkaya / Duvar

Turkey's Council of State, the highest administrative in the country, has suspended a controversial project that sought to build a 2,600-kilometer road in an attempt to connect plateaus of the Black Sea region.

The court said that the “Green Road” (“Yeşil Yol” in Turkish) project -- introduced by the government as a regional development project -- would damage the “uniqueness” of the plateaus in question and lead to an irreversible ecological destruction.

The “Green Road” project aimed to link important plateaus across Samsun, Ordu, Giresun, Gümuşhane, Bayburt, Trabzon, Rize and Artvin, via a 2,600-kilometer long road.

Several tourism centers around 40 different locations along the route were planned to be built within the framework of the project.

Although the government has praised the potential economic benefits of the project, activists and locals have been struggling against it saying that it would wreak environmental havoc in the region by cutting off shepherds’ ancient routes, affecting the traditional honey making industry and making the land more open to erosion.

Fırtına Initiative, one of the several groups protesting the project, said that the top court's decision came after a five-year-long judicial struggle.

“The threat the Green Road project poses for the existence of plateaus and its violation of the law have been declared for the first time in such an explicit way, by the the judiciary decision,” the Fırtına Initiative said.

Despite the court proceedings, authorities had already launched the controversial project, with constructions on several parts of the “Green Road” having been already completed.

Fırtınıa Initiative said that these constructions have had already a devastating impact on the fragile mountain ecosystem.

Lawyer İbrahim Demirci commented on the Council of State's decision saying that as of now all implementations concerning the controversial project “need to stop.”

Demirci said that if the Council of State orders the state to scrap the Green Road project all together, all constructions need to be reversed.