18 February 2014
Work on the $30bn project to build Istanbul’s third airport may be delayed after a Turkish court suspended the project’s environmental approval in response to a challenge from environmental engineers.
The ruling brings the court into apparent conflict with the Turkish government, which has said the massive airport scheme would still go ahead as planned.
Istanbul’s Fourth Administrative Court ordered a stay of execution of the Environmental Impact Assessment report, issued by the Environment Ministry, after four citizens residing nearby filed a lawsuit.
Turkey’s Chamber of Environmental Engineers (CMO), a professional body that is fighting two other court cases against the airport, told reporters that the court halted the implementation of the report pending further expert reports.
The CMO said that would delay airport construction for up to a year because the report is necessary to obtain the go-ahead for infrastructure projects.
Istanbul’s new airport was planned for construction in four stages beginning in 2016 (Wikimedia Commons)
Building the airport would mean the removal of nearly 2 million trees, and a further 658,00 being cut down in an area of Istanbul that suffers from high pollution, the CMO said.
However, Turkey’s transport minister LÃ¼tfi Elvan said the suspension was temporary and would not interfere with construction of the airport.
"This was a decision only for a temporary suspension pending the environmental impact approval report. In no way will it affect the construction of the airport," he told reporters.
The third airport project was awarded to a consortium of five Turkish companies – Cengiz, Kolin, Limak, Mapa and Kalyon – in a tender held on May 3, 2013, for $30.2bn.
The government aims to complete the first stage of the four-phase project in 2016 and hopes to make it fully operational in 2018.
The court ruled that the tender was conducted before the end of the 10-day period allowed for public objections following the release of the environmental report.