National Economic Council Director Prof. Avi Simhon who chairs the Steering Committee for the Strategic Plan for the Development of Haifa Bay, together with the Haifa Bay Development Authority, on Thursday morning, released a plan formulated in recent months by the relevant government agencies outlining the tasks, allocation of responsibilities, and the full timetable for its implementation.
The plan is focusing on preparing the country’s energy market for the dismantling of the petrochemical industry in Haifa Bay. These antiquated plants have raised cancer rates in the Haifa area well above the country’s average. They are also a menacing target for Hezbollah missile raids that could spell the disastrous loss of life as well as catastrophic injuries that spread at an alarming radius.
Prof. Simhon said: “The plan that we formulated will lead to the establishment of a major and strong metropolitan area in the north, which could, in the future, equal the drawing power of Greater Tel Aviv. This will change the image of the country and affect the development of the entire north. We are determined to lead this effort quickly and with maximum efficiency, and are working together with all of the government ministries that are participating in the plan even to bring forward the timetable for preparing the energy economy.”
The steering committee has been working in recent months together with the Israel Land Authority, Energy Ministry, Finance Ministry, Transportation Ministry, Environmental Protection Ministry, Interior Ministry, Planning Authority, Health Ministry, Economy Ministry, Israel Ports Development and Assets Company, and other partners to formulate a multi-year plan for the full implementation of the government decision: construction of railway lines for rapid trains between Tel Aviv and Haifa Bay; a metropolitan area park along the Kishon River; and a new hospital in Kiryat Ata.
The preparations include the construction and adaptation of infrastructure for the importation, transportation, storage, and distribution of refined petroleum products––gasoline, diesel fuel, and jet fuel––as well as a solution for the importation and storage of bitumen, which is used in producing asphalt. The plan also deals with the condensates of the Leviathan natural gas field.
Upon completion and adaptation of the infrastructure, the State of Israel will be prepared for cessation of all activities by the Bazan Group refineries in Haifa Bay, without harming the country’s energy economy.
According to the work plan, preparing the energy economy will conclude in 2029, two to three years earlier than the goal set by the directors-general committee and the Government decision.
The strategic plan for the development of Haifa Bay includes a strategic change in the heart of the metropolitan area: changing land designations from the petrochemical industry to employment, housing, logistics, and open spaces, including the planning and development of approximately 130,000 residential units, 12 million square meters for employment and commerce, and 5,800 dunams for the metropolitan area park along the Kishon River.