Turkish court halts construction plans in national park after opposition campaign

A Turkish court has stopped plans to construct bungalows and a guesthouse in a national park in Turkey’s north western province of Bolu, İlerihaber news site reported on Wednesday.

The Bolu Municipality, while led by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), announced a tender for the construction of 25 bungalows and a 19-room guesthouse in Gölcük National Park in 2017.

Following the announcement, various non-governmental organisations and environmentalists started a campaign and filed a lawsuit against the plan. One of the activists campaigning against the project was Tanju Özcan, who successfully ran for the main opposition party in the March 31 local election to become Mayor of Bolu.

The court in December ruled stay of execution for the project pending a ruling and conveyed the decision on May 8.

The national park enables people to enjoy nature and it is home to several animal species. Thus, any development plans should also consider natural diversity, the court said.

Turkey has enjoyed economic growth based on cheap foreign funding that drove a construction-driven boom under the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP).

However, many green areas have fallen victim to construction firms’ appetite for new areas to develop during the boom. Many experts have said the large-scale projects undertaken under AKP rule are leading the ecology towards irreversible damage.