Only a few months ago it looked as though we had successfully won the war against the development of a new cement works and an extension to the quarry above Uzumlu and Incerkoy. But this time we face an unexpected enemy.

Do Turkish Authorities Realise They Will Ruin Tourism & Investment in Uzumlu?

This is the question we are asking as the ongoing saga of the Uzumlu Cement Factory continues.

The last five weeks have seen a flurry of contradictory events happening and against all reason we are still no nearer to a conclusion. Five weeks ago a couple of the Turkish working party travelled to Mugla to meet with the Manager of Agriculture and left feeling very despondent having been told that he admitted to not even bothering to read the dossier against the factory and had just signed the papers requesting permission! This goes against a memo sent by the Environment Dept in Ankara to Mugla in Oct stating that the factory had been denied permission!

The reason why? Apparently his information had said that there were no olive groves within 3 kms of the site!  The Turkish working party returned the following week with olive farmers from Uzumlu and Incirikoy, with the proof that the olive farms are within 500 meters.

The Manager of Agriculture admitted that the measurement had been done by the road side and not in a straight line and agreed that it would be re measured.

A week later a letter was received from the Vali’s (Provincial Governor) Offices stating that he was going ahead and giving the permissions even though no new report had been done.

We have since met with a member of the CHP political party who has offered to raise questions in Mugla on our behalf and we are awaiting an appointment with the Vali in the next few days.

That brings everyone up to date but it does beg the question on the future of the area as a whole when local officials have financial interests in the cement factory. Does this affect their decision making and can they truly be take unbiased decisions? Can they not see that allowing an industrial scheme such as this will drive away the very people that have made the area rich?

People in Uzumlu will and are trying to sell their homes because of this development. Who wants to live in an area that is covered with dust from the chimneys? Who wants to breathe in mercury & carcinogenic emissions?

There are dozens of new empty houses in Uzumlu that are not selling and yet more are being built. How many builders are going to go bankrupt due to lack of sales? How many estate agents can survive in a dying market place? All this for a saving of 20 ytl per ton to supply the builders and yet it could kill those very businesses it claims to be trying to help, No customers No sales!

We have received support from local builders and estate agents who are against this proposal but perhaps now is the time to support the fight by way of using their contacts or financially by donating towards the fighting funds to protect their businesses which have become rich on the back of the foreigners purchasing their properties.

We are asking officials to look at the reality of the position of this factory in an area of undoubted natural beauty which has become rich due to the influx of foreigners, look after the locals who depend on their crops to earn a living, protect all the population against the harmful effects on their health that this factory would bring.

We are not against a cement factory being built but we are asking for it to be built in an industrial area or an area away from the general population and for it not to be built in the Uzumlu valley where it will destroy livelihoods, health, animals and the prosperity of the area.

Laws are made to be followed but it seems that this does not apply to certain parties in this case.

Are the Turkish Authorities really trying to drive out foreign investment and tourism? That is the real question.

Fiona Robson