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Monday, 11 November, 2002, 20:23 GMT
Israel plans artificial islands
Artist's conception of an artificial island
The islands would accommodate 20,000 people
The Israeli Government is to set up a committee to examine plans to create a chain of artificial islands along its Mediterranean coast, Israeli media say.

The multi-billion-dollar project envisages building three islands for tourism, residential and business purposes, served by an offshore airport.


Building the islands is a complicated but feasible project

Tony Bernstein, Israel Institute of Technology
It is the latest step towards approving the proposals, which have been under discussion for 10 years.

Environmental groups have opposed the plans, saying the islands' creation could destroy the country's beaches and obstruct views out to sea.

Underwater tunnels

According to media reports, the three square-kilometre (half a square mile) islands would be built opposite the major coastal cities of Tel Aviv, Haifa, Herzliya and Netanya.

Tel Aviv skyline
Large parts of Israel are built on desert

The tear-drop shaped constructions would be linked to the mainland by bridges and connected to each other by a network of underwater tunnels.

They would provide living space for 20,000 people and create jobs for another 10,000.

Planners say the islands will also draw about 20,000 people in each day for tourism and business.

The islands are expected to cost about $1bn each to build and would be privately financed.

Security concerns

A spokesman for Israel's Institute of Technology, which has carried out research for the project, told BBC News Online the islands would provide an alternative to building towns in the desert.

"Parts of Israel can't be used for residential and tourism purposes because of the sands and rock substrata," said Tony Bernstein. "This is going to become more limited in the future.

"Building the islands is a complicated but feasible project, not only in structural terms but also taking into account the security demands of such a major, new undertaking."

But environmentalist groups have called for the plans to be scrapped, saying the islands would erode Israel's beaches and cliffs, while an offshore airport would create unacceptable levels of noise pollution.

Israeli media say a government-appointed panel will submit a report on the project within the next three months before a final decision is made.

See also:

04 Nov 02 | Business
21 Jun 02 | Business
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