"Birds in the Air, Electricity in the Ground"

Tuesday, March 31, 2015 2:20 PM

KKL-JNF, together with other green organizations and local authorities, is spearheading a protest against new power lines the Israeli Electric Company (IEC) is planning to install in the Hula Valley.


Wild boar and migrating cranes at Hula Lake in the Hula Valley. Photo: Ancho Gosh, KKL-JNF Photo Archive

 

The government of Israel decided that by 2020, 20% of the country's energy will be produced by renewable sources. One of them is wind turbines, over 30 of which are being constructed in a valley in the Golan Heights. The electricity created by the turbines is intended for communities in the Hula Valley, which is also the site of the Agamon Hula Lake Park, and if there is no change in plans, the electricity will flow to the Hula Valley through power lines on metal towers.


Efi Naim. Photo: Tania Susskind

According to Efi Naim, KKL-JNF Director of the Hula Valley and Golan Heights forester, "the Israel Electric Company plans to install the power lines from east to west, which means that they cross the migration route of the approximately 500,000,000 birds that fly over the Hula Valley from north to south annually. KKL-JNF, together with the Israel Society for the Protection of Nature and the Israel Nature and Parks Authority, has voiced its unequivocal opposition to this plan and demanded that an alternative be found, since global experience has shown that aerial power lines lead to the death of many migrating birds. Hula Lake Park has been nominated to be considered a world heritage site by the United Nations, and this migration route is considered to be the most important in the world.

"The IEC wants to build the electric towers along Highway 977, which is lined by old eucalyptus trees. Tens of thousands of migrating birds spend the night in the branches of these trees, which would be endangered by this plan. Besides threatening the birds, the power lines are also dangerous for people and constitute a fire hazard, which is why the local authorities also oppose the idea.

"Our recommendation is that the power lines should be buried underground. The IEC says they have no experience with such a project, but they really don't have to reinvent the wheel. In Denmark, for example, over 6,000 kilometers of electric lines were placed in the ground. I recently attended a meeting at the Mevo'ot Hermon Regional Council where, together with the heads of all the local communities, we all agreed that the idea of the power lines in the air is simply untenable. During the intermediate days of the upcoming Passover holiday, we are planning activities in the region in order to make the public aware of this danger, under the slogan 'Birds in the air, electricity in the ground'. KKL-JNF will not approve any of the projected plans until this matter is resolved to our full satisfaction."