Turkish court cancels zoning plans of Kanal Istanbul

Istanbul Mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu announced that the zoning plans of the Turkish government’s Kanal Istanbul project were canceled with an administrative court’s ruling.

Duvar English

Istanbul 11th Administrative Court on Feb. 13 canceled the development plan of Turkish government’s Kanal Istanbul Project, a plan to build an artificial waterway parallel to the Bosporus.

The court finalized the lawsuit filed by Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality (İBB) regarding the zoning plan of Kanal Istanbul Project. The court canceled the zoning plan amendment made by the Environment, Urbanization, and Climate Change Ministry regarding the Yenişehir Reserve Building Area (Kanal Istanbul Project) Phase 1.

The court also ruled that the procedure of the ministry’s rejection of İBB’s objection to the zoning plan was not in accordance with the law. 

İBB had previously objected to the zoning plan for Phase 1 of the Canal Istanbul Project, which was approved by the Ministry on July 15, 2021. The Ministry tacitly rejected İBB's objection to the zoning plan amendment in question by not answering, and İBB took the matter to the judiciary for the cancellation of the zoning plan.

In its application, İBB requested the cancellation of the plan on the grounds that the ministry's rejection was unfair and unlawful, the plan in dispute were contrary to the public interest, and would cause irreversible damage to agricultural lands, forest areas, and water basins, which are vital for the future of Istanbul.

The administrative court concluded that there was no compliance with "the principles of urban planning, planning techniques, and the law" in the transaction regarding the tacit rejection of the municipality's objection.

The court found deficiencies in the zoning amendments, including inadequate population calculations, lack of information on the opinions of investor institutions and organizations regarding newly proposed reinforcement areas due to changes in road routes, and designation of cemetery areas for afforestation, which is inconsistent with legislation.

The court stated that it was not known how the population falling within the share of the plan was determined in the zoning plan amendments. It noted that this situation created uncertainty in terms of population control for the subject plan amendments.

The judicial process continues for other lawsuits regarding the planning processes related to the Kanal Istanbul. The case regarding the Environmental Impact Assessment (ÇED) also pending before the Council of State, the highest administrative court of the country.

Announcing the court's ruling, İBB Mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu underlined that a "big mistake" was made in the Kanal Istanbul Project. İmamoğlu said, "This decision is not final as it is an administrative court decision. The requirements of the decision were asked to be fulfilled within 30 days. It is a judgement proving a great mistake has been made in the Kanal Istanbul Project.