A court in the Turkish Black Sea province of Rize has rejected a lawsuit from locals aimed at cancellation of a controversial project known as the Green Road, which involves the construction of a 2,600-kilometer road connecting highland areas in eight provinces of the Black Sea region, the Sözcü daily reported on Monday.
Five residents of the Çamlıhemşin district of Rize in 2015 filed a lawsuit against the construction of the Green Road, claiming that the project would lead to environmental damage in the region.
With the project, highlands beginning from Samsun will be connected to those in Ordu, Giresun, Gümüşhane, Bayburt, Trabzon, Rize and Artvin. Many locals and environmental organizations oppose the project and have been staging demonstrations against it on the grounds that it will destroy green space in the region and damage the environment.
According to Sözcü’s report, the Rize Administrative Court rejected the lawsuit from the locals and gave a green light for the continuation of the project.
The court made this decision despite a report from a team of experts including relevant officials and engineers who said there is no public benefit in the execution of the Green Road project as a part of which many trees will be cut down. The experts also said the highlands should never be a venue of construction and should be preserved as they are.
The Rize court’s decision attracted criticism from local organizations that are against the Green Road project. A written statement from the local Fırtına (Storm) Initiative accused the court of buying time over the course of the past three years to enable the conclusion of the project and of failing to conduct fair proceedings.
“While the court proceedings were still going on, the project connecting the highlands to each other has almost been completed. When we look at the judicial process, we see that by keeping this case in limbo, the court made the finishing of the Green Road possible,” added the statement.
The Green Road project is expected to be concluded in 2019.
Cases were launched against 11 people who took part in demonstrations staged in protest of the Green Road project. An elderly local woman, Rabia Özcan, known as “Mother Havva,” became the symbol of the protests as she was a leading figure in the demonstrations.