Destructive Wind Turbine Plan in Golan Heights
On 29.6.2019 ACRI informed the National Infrastructures Commission (NIC) of its objection to the NIC’s plan to build 31 immense wind turbines in Druze villages’ agricultural lands in the Golan Heights.
Following the 1967 war, five Druze villages: Majdal al-Shams, Mas’ade, Buq’ata, Ein Qiniyye and Skhita, remained at the base of the Hermon Mountain in the Golan Heights. In 1971, Skhita residents were displaced and their village was destroyed. Today, about 24,000 people live in the remaining villages. It is a unique community, about 90% of its residents are not citizens, and are consequently without political power or impact.
Between the villages, on the hillside, lies the area of Skhita, on whose land apple and cherry orchards now grow. These orchards are owned by families, passed down from generation to generation; each family is responsible for the crops in its area. Skhita is not only an agricultural area, it is an integral and dominant part of the identity and traditions of the residents. In the afternoon and evening hours, it is a place of refuge and recreation; in the summer, it is a place where residents can go to lie and rest under the sun.
Exactly in the heart of this unique community and this exceptional area, planning authorities intend to authorize a wind-energy farm for electricity. The plan includes 31 massive wind turbines, 200-220 meters tall (significantly larger than the tallest Azrieli building), with a diameter of 60 meters, and lights to warn passer-by planes. The plan also includes an unknown number of 125 meter-tall masts, used to measure the wind; an unknown number of electricity rooms, plans to expand agricultural roads used by locals, pave new roads, install above- and under-ground electricity and communication cables, and prepare additional land for organization and planning.
ACRI’s argument against the program includes a concern that it will ultimately harm a series of human rights, including: the right to health, livelihood, and the choice of this of this unique community to live as they choose. The plan will destroy much of the community’s agricultural lands and will tarnish the breathtaking scenery of the region. Notably, there is no single other example of this kind of plan, in which wind turbines and electricity farms are built so close to residential areas that residents are able to see the turbines from the windows in their homes.
We submitted our opposition in the name of various associations in the villages, including: the Agricultural Association, the parent’s committee, and health and education NGOs. We submitted it together with Al-Marsad - The Arab Centre for Human Rights in the Golan Heights- and with Bimkom- Planners for Human Rights. Attached to our objections, we included a petition with over 5,600 signatories- residents from the surrounding villages- opposing the plan.
On 12.8.2019, the National Infrastructures Commission discussed our objections but has yet to reach a decision.