Yeşilüzümlü (Uzumlu) will remain green says the Court of Muğla Province which has found in favour of the protestors who have been energetically campaigning against the building of a cement factory by Urantaş in the valley.

Yeşilüzümlü (Uzumlu) will remain green says the Court of Muğla Province which has found in favour of the protestors who have been energetically campaigning against the building of a cement factory by Urantaş in the valley.

The action was not against the company itself but rather employees of the Ministry of the Environment who had previously issued a report saying that a cement factory would not be detrimental to the environment. The judges’ decision was that this was not the case and any such polluting industry would have negative environmental and health implications for the area. They also agreed with the plaintiffs by saying that the valley and its surroundings are residential and touristic; not suitable for this kind of industry.

It goes without saying that there are some very happy people in the area at the moment! Many of the protestors have devoted much time, money and effort to preventing what they see as a totally inappropriate use of the hillside sight overlooking several small hamlets and villages. It is also in close proximity to olive groves, schools and farmland, this last being for many the reason why they chose to live in Yeşilüzümlü in the first place.

{mosimage}Halil Uran, the owner and chairman of Urantaş was not as disappointed by the news as may be expected. He said he was convinced that he would be continuing with the development of the cement factory within the next five years and the present economic situation meant that he was quite prepared to wait until global finances improved. He stated that ‘the laws must change to allow the development of industry like this in Turkey and I have no doubt that they will.’ In the meantime his company  still intends to extract aggregate for use in the ready-mix cement factory in nearby Günlükbaşı and for the local roads’ improvement programme.

TEMA (The Turkish foundation for the combating of soil erosion, for reforestation and the protection of natural habitats) representative Okyay Tirli said he was very happy that the cement factory would not be permitted for environmental reasons. When asked what action, if any, he would now take on behalf of TEMA to reinstate the thousands of trees felled in a pre-emptive action by the Forestry Ministry, he said that the problem of de-forestation affects many areas in Turkey and is an issue that the organisation he represents will be addressing.

Sema Kumyol Ridpath, local architect, member of the Fethiye Chamber of Architects and passionate supporter of environmental protection thinks that the court’s decision is ‘a very important victory for the valley and the villagers.’ She believes that the strength of the Commission’s argument will make it ‘difficult for the opponents of environmental conservation to change the result.’

{mosimage}Ali Kışlak is the protester’s spokesman and Vice Chairman of The Association for the Environmental Protection and Development of Yeşilüzümlü. He is extremely satisfied with the court’s decision that Yeşilüzümlü is deemed to be a cultural and touristic area and that furthermore it has recognised that should the factory have been allowed to proceed ‘the health of health of thousands of people would have put at risk.’ We proceeded with struggle through legal channels and this result is a triumph for our Justice System and Turkish Democracy.’ He now believes that any industrial development must be halted in the valley and the Governor of Muğla and his representative in Fethiye, the Kaymakam, will in due course enforce the court’s decision.

Fiona Robson, vociferous spokesperson for the foreign residents, makes it clear that she and others will not be resting on their laurels for the time being at least. ‘Of course we are delighted by the court’s findings,’ she says ‘we are looking forward to enjoying the beautiful valley again but we must all be aware that maybe Urantaş will want to pursue this case to the appeal courts and in any event we have a lot of fund raising to do to pay for the lawyers we hired. Unfortunately we can’t rest quite yet.’

Jane Tuna

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