NORTHERN FORESTS DEFENCE (KUZEY ORMANLARI SAVUNMASI) REPORT ON 3RD AIRPORT (MARCH 2015)
After gathering and improving the topics mentioned in the reports of the professional chambers and civil society organizations as well as the report we compiled in the early 2014, and including the economical size of the project and unlawfulness of the contractors’ which have barely been mentioned before, we claim that this is not a transportation project, but a construction project designed pave the way to plunder the virgin north of Istanbul. We have prepared this study to make the fact that Istanbul will face extinction with this destructive project known publicly at national and international level.
We will specify the following basic points about the 3rd airport since it will be impossible to broach all the topics of our 100 page report at a press release with a limited time.
1- The third airport project is larger than the airport with maximum capacity
Atlanta Airport, which has the maximum passenger capacity in the world, is located on the land of 1625 hectares with its 95 million passenger capacity. Accordingly, why has the 3rd airport of Istanbul, designed to service for 150 million passengers, been planned to be built on 7650 hectares while a land of 3500 hectares is enough for it?
According to the growth scenario in “Mega Projeler Havalimanının Kaderi Büyümeye Bağlı” (The fate of the mega projects airport depends on growth) report of Bahçeşehir University’s Centre Economic and Social Research (BETAM), it seems impossible for the airport to profit. This situation is suggestive of that the lands of the 3rd airport can be opened for the rent oriented construction and real estate businesses by the Consortium members who are already construction company owners.
2- A new airport or a city?
Many different units including business centers, congress and culture centers and sport complexes are mentioned under the topic “Airport & City Complex” in the official environmental impact assessment (ÇED) report. The 3rd airport, designed as transportation Project, is an attempt to create a centre of attraction for the construction industry in Istanbul’s North, and is a package with the 3rd bridge and canal projects. Each of these projects has been designed to feed another one. Thus, real estate consultants state that the location of the airport and Northern Marmara Motorway route passing over the canal makes the region a centre of attraction. Mass land purchases and speculation activities through intermediaries have already gone up.
3- This special region 90% of which is covered with wetland and forests will be transformed to an area 90% of which is covered with concrete
According to the environmental impact assessment (ÇED) report, 81% of the area on which the project is planned to be realized is forest land and 9% of it is lake and pond. Istanbul forestland is one of the 200 most important ecological zones in the world while it’s one of the 100 forests which are worthy of urgent protection in Europe. These forests becoming lush in city’s north side, contains the important water recourses of the city as well. The project area of the third airport covers 7650 hectares and 6172 hectares of this land is a forestland.
The benefits gained from the forests (wood production, water production, climate regulation, , carbon bonding, reduction of the air pollution, oxygen production, habitats for living creatures) will also decrease. The picture we encounter is much more alarming when you consider the indirect impacts of the projects.
4- The information about the trees cut down disappeared from the environmental impact assessment (ÇED) report, and the statement about the lakes and the ponds were changed as ‘water holes’
The 1st environmental impact assessment (ÇED) report in 2013 stated that 657.950 of 2.513,341 trees would be cut down and 1.855,391 trees would be moved to another area. However, the information on how many trees will be cut down isn’t included in the 2nd and 3rd ÇED reports! While the statement “there are 70 lakes, ponds and lakelets on the project area” was placed in the 1st ÇED report, these lakes are defined as ‘big and small water holes’ in the 3rd ÇED report. Yet, the same ÇED Reports describes Kulakçayırı, located in the region, as “important for the region in ecological value” and “quite rich in fish diversity”.
5- İstanbul will lose its water sources while the drought age is starting for the world.
It is foreseen that water level in some of Istanbul’s important water recourses such as Terkos, Alibeyköy and Pirinççi dams will fall and the pollution in the streams will be moved to the dams as a result of the increase in the vehicular traffic, forest destruction and concretion which will be caused by the project. One of the most important problems which both Istanbul and Turkey will face is drought. In this case, while the governments should urgently take measures, the mega-projects on the Northern Forests including 3rd Airport will speed up the concretion of the drainage basins in Marmara Region and rain waters to mix in the sewage. They will also increase and speed up the drought and water shortage.
6- It is on the most important migratory routes of birds
In the environmental impact assessment (ÇED) report about the 3rd Airport, it is alleged that 17 bird species exists in the region, but ornithologists state that there are at least 200 bird species in the Northern Forests. The risk of having an accident by crossing and entering the coveys during the departures and landings from/to the airport which will be constructed on one of the most important migratory routes of birds has been explained several times. According to international standards, there shouldn’t be a garbage plant closer than 13,5 km to the location where an airport will be constructed since this kind of plants can attract millions of birds. But there is an aside plant of İSTAÇ, into which 3 million tons of garbage is left each year, in Göktürk, 6 km away from the project area.
7- Location selection, meteorological obstacles and the nature of the ground: Dangerous for flight safety
The runways are adjacent to the Blacksea shores, which are the most foggy places on the world – this is a possible cause of delays during takeoffs and descents as well as various problems and dangers like driving off the runway. In addition, during landings in rainy and stormy weathers, the two main winds of Istanbul, northeaster and southwester will be effective from the sides, and this causes grave risks for flight safety regarding possible wing foldings, and also being affected by turbulance and drifts. Despite this fact, the meteorological evaluations have been taken from the Kumköy, Florya and Göztepe Meteorological Stations, which are quite distant to the project site – therefore these evaluations do not contain realistic information pertaining to the area.
The ground of the project area is problematic. The slack characteristic of the ground will give rise to sinkages. The Union of Chambers of Turkish Engineers and Architects (TMMOB) also states that such a gigantic filler can’t reach a stable condition. The report prepared TMMOB points out to 2 important problems: 1) Sinkages in the material that makes up the ground in the field, 2) Sinkages in the millions of cubic meters of artificial filler to be implemented in
the area TMMOB İstanbul District Coordination (İKK) 3rd Airport Technical Report states that if the project level is dropped to 70 meters from 105 meters, it won’t be possible for planes to take-off from and descend to runways at 70 meters.
8- The biggest investment in all history of the Republic, while the economy is approaching alarm conditions
According the latest data announced by the Turkish Statistical Institute (TÜİK):
Growth in the 3rd quarter of 2014 was 1.7%
The official unemployment ratio is 10.4% according to August 2014 data, and the ratio of young unemployed in this number is 18.9%
The possibility that FED will increase interest rates in 2015 is preparing ground for stagflation in Turkey, in other words, the combination of stagnation with unemployment and inflation. The housing and construction sector, nearing its saturation levels, will be negatively affected from these conditions as well as constant increases in foreign currency rates. Increases in foreign currency rates has also increased the Turkish Lira cost of debt payments. The currency loss due to 167 billion dollars to be paid back during 2015, can cause serious damage to the balance sheets of banks and companies.
Foreign debt has also reached a record level with 386.8 billion dollars by the end of 2014. Turkish markets do not cause confidence and Turkey’s credit note has been decreased to stable (Fitch) and negative (Moody’s ve Standard&Poor’s). Due to excessive increases in foreign currency rates and increasing interest rates for foreign debts, the cost of the 3rd Airport increased 12.9 billion dollars in only 9 months, whereas the consortium had undertaken the 3rd Airport with an initial cost of 22 billion 152 million euros.
9- The losses of DHMİ are continuously increasing
According to the 2013 Audit Report of the State Audit Court for the State Airports Administration (DHMİ), DHMİ has registered a loss of 1 billion 328 million liras over the last 4 years, and doesn’t seem financially equipped to undertake such a project. The State Audit Court also documents that out of 47 airports (excluding Hakkari) operated by DHMİ, only 7 have registered a profit. According to the ‘Debt Undertaking Regulation’ which came into force in April 2014, the 3rd Airport project doesn’t seem to be under treasury guarantee, since the Public Economic Enterprise (KİT) projects are no longer in the scope of treasury guarantee. But since DHMİ won’t be able to pay back such a big amount of debt, the guarantee will have to be undertaken by the treasury sooner or later, because DHMİ is a Public Economic Enterprise and thereby under the scope of the treasury.
10- Law has been disregarded
As detailed in our report, the 188.8.131.52, 166 and 169. Articles of the Constitution has been violated.
The Environmental Plan of Istanbul, also known as the ‘Constitution of Istanbul’, which entered into force in 2009, states the area of the 3rd Airport as forestland, water basins and areas which are geologically unfavorable for residential purposes. The expansion of Istanbul toward the north is against the resolutions of the Environmental Plan of Istanbul.
The State Audit Court report states that site delivery still hasn’t been done, even 1.5 years after the tender. So how was the groundbreaking done for a project without site delivery? Zoning plans containing the airport was announced 10 days after the groundbreaking ceremony on 17 June Haziran 2014. Legal action was taken against the zoning plans, but these were changed during the court process, and rendered untouchable by law.
In violation of the Environmental Law and ÇED Regulation, the tender of the airport has been concluded before the ÇED report has been approved.
11- Public Detriment
Profiteering Before The Start Of The Project The airport level has to be 105 meters according to the tender conditions, but this level has been decreased to 70 meters after the tender, disregarding flight safety, and according to estimates, the cost of the required filler has dropped to 1 billion euros instead of 3 billion euros, thereby making the public lose money. In addition, delaying area delivery up to 1.5 years, according to estimates, meant more than 1 billion euro gain for the contractors.
12- The Partnership of the Lawlessness, Plunder and Looting
The contractors of the 3rd airport contract are also awarded by the owner of a large number of hydroelectric power plants on public procurement. For example, MA-PA depends on where the MNG Holding, have about a dozen HPP construction from Aegean to the Black Sea. Even so, the contractor Kolin, recently tried to build a thermal power plant by cutting thousands of olive trees in the village of Yırca near Soma in the city of Manisa. Neverthless, Cengiz Holding also has many tender of HPP where question to cause a submersion of Hasankeyf into the water. These contractors are taking the lead of these projects which are responsable for the incorrect calculation of the EIA reports and the pressure and harrassment to the populations in the project field by disregard of court decisions.
We are calling on the local as well as the international public: Don’t commit crimes against Istanbul by giving moral and material support to this project. We are calling to defend Istanbul and life against the third airport project. We believe that our call will be heard and another story will be written. We believe, because we have confidence in the conscience of our people and the responsibility they feel towards future generations.
Northern Forests Defense
(March 26, 2015)