Both the Mayor of Fethiye Alım Karaca and Muğla’s Deputy Mürsel Alban have pledged themselves to the battle to block plans for geothermal drilling sites along the coast between Ölüdeniz and Gemiler.

Both hosted a joint press conference in Kayaköy this morning to confirm their vehement opposition to the shock decision to grant applications for exploration at six locations.

Mr Alban faces the cameras in Kayaköy. Picture by Steve Parsley.

Two are on the shores of the Blue Lagoon at Ölüdeniz, one is within a First Degree Natural Site within the boundaries of the Kayaköy neighbourhood, another is within an archaeological site near Gemiler and two more are at Oyukbaşı Hill near Darboğaz.

Online petition

The news had already prompted an online petition launched by Fethiye Ecological Life Association (Fethiye Ecolojik Yaşam Derneği or FETDER) which had expressed grave concerns over whether toxic chemicals will be used during geothermal exploration, as well as the potential for earth tremors and subsidence.

Should a more permanent geothermal plant be established, the association warns of the potential for an increased risk of CO2 emissions, water pollution and consequential environmental damage to plants and trees and even the local soil.

By this morning, over 8,000 people had already expressed their support for the petition.

However, today, Mr Karaca and Mr Alban joined the fight and pledged every legal means possible will be used to block the proposals.

Mr Karaca and Mr Alban (centre) address the crowd during the press conference in Kayaköy this morning. Picture by Steve Parsley.

Approximately 100 people – all observing social distancing and wearing the appropriate PPE – listened as statements were read out. Both men then addressed the crowd.

Protesters stand in solemn silence – and observe social distancing – as they register their resistance to plans for the six sites. Picture by Steve Parsley.

A joint statement read out was as follows:

 “Because of its delicate and rare natural values, Fethiye was declared a Private Environment Protection Area (ÖÇK) by the cabinet in 1988.

“However, it has been been declared an investment is planned which involves geothermal source searches by ground drilling and, as a result, a ÇED (environment effect report) procedure started on March 30, 2020, for six sites around Kayaköy and Ölüdeniz.

“The Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources has given the necessary permissions for the activity. It is indicated in the Project Presentation file that the investors have prepared and presented the project to the Ministry of Environment and City Planning and six drilling points have been selected within Kayaköy and Ölüdeniz covering 2.182,5 hectares. Each will cover ten acres of land at the following locations:

  • Two are within the Ölüdeniz Lagoon Archaeological Site – one on a Natural Site (defined as a delicate area under absolute protection on a ecology-based scientific research report prepared by the Ministry of Environment and City Planning)
  • One is in the region of Kayaköy’s Soğuksu beach, defined as a delicate area under absolute protection.
  • One of them is on Delikliburun-Gemiler Beach, a first-level Archaeological Protected Area
  • Two more are to the north of Darboğaz and Oyukbaşı Hill, which is also a Natural Protected Area 

“All these areas are defined as Important Natural Areas in the Environment Plans for Aydın-Muğla-Denizli and left for the use of forestry.

“Delicate areas under absolute protection are described according to the resolution thus: ‘Protection and access terms of the Natural Protected Areas – presented in the Official Gazette and put in to action on 25.01.2017 with the number 2995 – means access to these areas is limited due to the protection of their natural resources. Public access to these areas is banned; only scientific research, educational or environmental monitoring can only be done after special protection measures are taken.’ Ground drilling for geothermal resources is therefore against this resolution.

“The project and the points of drilling mentioned above are all within very delicate ecosystems defined and registered by the Ministry of Environment and City Planning because they contain very rare species which are close to extinction.

“The Republic of Turkey is responsible for these sorts of areas and the species they contain under the international environment agreements. According to constitution law Section 90, the terms of the international agreements we take part in are applied as law.

“Some of the drilling points in the project are also located within areas defined as Archaeological Protected Areas. The government of the Republic Of Turkey also took part in international agreements which underlines that any archaeological sites should be considered as humanity’s mutual inheritance and partners who signed the agreement accept the responsibility for passing on this inheritance to the next generations.

“Geothermal Energy Plants (JES), which are seen as a sustainable energy source, can cause irrevocable damage due to poor location choices and the negative impact they can have on the environment. It has been reported on several occasions that JES sites have affected agriculture and stockbreeding.

“The destruction of nature will begin with site preparation work and will continue during the drilling.

“The river beds such as Akkula, Harnupluçukur and Kuyuçukuru will be damaged while the mud created by the drilling, the release of poisonous gases and the release of liquids containing cyanide, sulphur, nickel and lead will cause environment pollution and damage.

“Waste reaching the sea via surface absorption and via the rivers can will also lead to the destruction of marine ecosystems.

“Also, if enough geothermal resources are found at one of the drilling points, this will allow other geothermal tourist establishments to develop, increasing the pressure for more construction.

“The environmental damage will increase immensely with the opening of new roads to access the drilling points and new establishments, the installation of transfer lines and networks for the geothermal resources.

“It is very clear that this sort of enterprise looks like a path to more tourism development, risking the most delicate ecosystems under Fethiye’s absolute protected areas.

“In addition to the realities mentioned above, we request the following for this project:

  • The permissions and licences given by the Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources with the title of Geothermal Resource Search by Ground Drilling are cancelled.
  • The ÇED report procedure granted by the Ministry of Environment and City Planning is stopped according to the relevant law.

“We kindly present this mutual declaration from Fethiye Belediye and Fethiye Town Council.”