Forests and lakes destroyed to build Istanbul’s vast 3rd airport aerotropolis covering 76 square kilometers of land

Istanbul is building a third airport, north of the city close to the Terkos lake area.  Istanbul already has Atatürk Airport on the European side and Sabiha Gökçen airport on the Asian side (these handle around 45 million and 15 million passengers respectively per year), but both claim to be struggling with increased demand – being well located as a hub between Europe, the Middle East and the East.  Their national airline, Turkish Airlines, is growing fast. The site for the 3rd airport, which is to be an Aerotropolis, not merely an airport, is about 76 square kilometres. The third airport is linked with other forest destroying megaprojects – a third bridge over the Bosphorus, a motorway and a canal linking the Black Sea with the Sea of Marmara. All three are linked and feed into each other.  The vast construction works destroy areas of forest, lakes and ponds – causing serious local concern about biodiversity loss, loss of natural habitat and possible future heat island and water supply problems.  Turkey wants another vast airport, perhaps able to take up to 150 million passengers per year, partly to boost its chances of getting the Olympics in 2024. The busiest airport in the world now, Atlanta, handles about 95 million passengers per year.  A short video shows the ongoing environmental destruction, during the building of the airport.

Forests and lakes destroyed for Istanbul’s 3rd airport


Kuzey Ormanları Savunması​ (the ‘North Forest Defence’) which campaigns to protect the forests to the north of Istanbul, has made an English language version of a shocking video. (Vimeo  3 mins 20 secs)

It documents the destruction of forests for the city’s third airport. Its ecocide: piles of felled trees; a long line of earth moving trucks nose to tail along the highway; bulldozers gouging away at the earth; forests, lakes and meadows destroyed. A sheep farmer explains that there is nowhere for him to tend his animals once the construction site is fenced off and fears dreadful consequences of the loss of the forest, it attracts rainfall that the city depends upon.

The forest protectors want the world to know what is happening here. People sharing this video in English on social media are urged to use the hashtag #‎ResistAgainstInstanbul3rdAirport‬

The third airport is linked with other forest destroying megaprojects – a third bridge over the Bosphorus, a motorway and a canal linking the Black Sea with the Sea of Marmara.

On 26th March Kuzey Ormanları Savunması​ held a press conference during which architect Mücella Yapıcı warned of irreversible ecological damage from the airport and other megaprojects, and announced that several business chambers, including the Chamber of Architects and the Chamber of Engineers, have united to open a court case relating to two Environmental Impact Reports. Both reports, prepared for investors, emphasised serious ecological destruction, with Yapıcı stating ‘This is the massacre of Istanbul. We cannot just sit here silently and allow this’.

At the press conference, Kuzey Ormanları Savunması​ presented its latest report. Entitled Life, Nature, Environment, Humanity and the Law against the Third Airport Project (article in Turkish – but a Google translation gives a workable understanding of what it is saying !)  it explains that the megaprojects – the bridge, highway, canal and airport – are interconnected and designed to feed each others’ growth.

The report also reveals that the new airport is not just an airport; it is a plan for an aerotropolis (a city built around an airport), on a site of over 76 square kilometres.

Even if the new airport reaches its stated goal of 150 million passengers per year (which would make it the world’s busiest airport), the land area far exceeds that which would be required for aeronautical operations. Currently, Atlanta Airport in the US is the world’s busiest passenger airport, handling 95 million passengers per year, covering a site of 16.25 square kilometres.

The aerotropolis plan is designed to trigger development on land surrounding it including business, cultural and sports complexes, sprawling over the last remaining pristine natural areas of the area.

Negative environmental impacts from felling of forests include loss of climate regulation through oxygen production and carbon sequestration. There are serious concerns over the concreting over of lakes which is a threat to Istanbul’s water supply and the loss of habitat hosting an abundance of wildlife such as wolves, insects and at least 160 species of birds.


Some extracts (very imperfect translation into English – apologies…. ) from the Turkish article at

Airport not Aerotropolis

North Forest Defense resistance … has prepared a report on the planned 3rd airport.
…..According to the report, the airport project is actually a city complex. Therefore, Istanbul, aero (air) and Tropolis (metropolis-metropolitan) consisting of words and the way to becoming a new concept Aerotropolis.
…. It Is not only the airport under the project, the EIA report ‘Airport City Complex’ under the title, business center, the congress and cultural centers and sports complexes are mentioned ….
… Istanbul ‘s north airport is an attraction for the construction industry …. and  ‘is designed to trigger a variety of development projects around creating project. This project, a management wheel of the economy tied to the construction industry, the last remaining pristine areas of Istanbul opening to plunder ………….”
The report noted the following:
* the 3rd airport project is a package of 3 things, with an Istanbul bridge and Canal  project. Each of these projects is planned to feed the other.. The 3rd airport’s positioning in this region and the North Marmara Motorway brought into the center of attraction of the route passing through the channel.
….. 90% of the wetlands and forests and this particular area will be covered by airport concrete building.
….  90% percent of lakes and forests of this special region will be covered in concrete and contribute to an urban heat island.
…. The World is entering era of thirst, and Istanbul will lose its water resources.
… The benefits of forests (wood production, water production, climate regulation, carbon sequestration and oxygen production, reduce air pollution, habitat of living and so on) would decrease.
….. This is not a land where other natural habitat is being developed. There is much biodiversity in the forest and the lakes and ponds that are being destroyed.
….. This project will increase the drought and water shortage in the opposite direction to one side to take measures against drought and thirst, and are projects that will accelerate.
…. the authorities say there are 17 species of birds in the region, but other ornithologists say there are 160 species or even 200 bird species.
…. there are issues about the direction the planes will land, into the wind.
….. Due to increasing foreign debt interest and exchange rates, €22 billion to €152 million have been ??? received by the consortium for the 3rd airport. The cost of the airport’s only the first nine months increased by $12.9 billion.
….. the new Aerotropolis planned will be a new city, to rival Istanbul, not merely an airport.


Construction of Istanbul’s third airport continues at full throttle despite concerns

ISTANBUL – Anadolu Agency

The new airport is expected to host 150 million passengers each year. AA Photo

The new airport is expected to host 150 million passengers each year. AA Photo

Construction of Istanbul’s third airport continues at full throttle despite concerns

9.11.2014  (Turkish Daily News)

Construction of Istanbul’s third airport is continuing, in a bid to establish in Turkey’s largest city what the government hopes will be the most important center of world air traffic.

The Cengiz-Kolin-Limak-Mapa-Kalyon Consortium, a joint venture of Turkish companies, is continuing ground works with the grant holder of the site Istanbul Grand Airport (IGA). Company officials say the operations are ongoing on 76.5 square kilometers of land.

The controversial facility, promoted by the government to showcase development, will become not only Istanbul’s largest airport but also one of the world’s major hubs. Its construction in one of the city’s most precious natural areas, however, has drawn criticism from activists denouncing a culture of plunder and destruction.

There are currently two different lawsuits opened by the Chamber of Environmental Engineers against the contracting of the airport construction, but there has been no development in the cases in the last two years. The Northern Forest Defense, an environmental group that has long been advocating against the third airport and bridge, has launched an online campaign under the hashtag “Resist the third airport.”

With local and foreign experts overseeing the work, a total of 780 geological surveys have been conducted since the beginning of works in March 2014, along with 1,020 soil sample tests and 9,000 Cone Penetrometer Tests (CPT), according to the project’s geotechnical reports.

The Turkish Aviation Organization and Administration, which is under the authority of the General Directorate of State Airports, is following the coordination and management of the project’s progress. The airport is planned to be opened in 2017.



See earlier:

Turkey plans to build a 6-runway mega airport near Istanbul to be one of the world’s largest

Turkey is planning to build one of the world’s biggest airports, and one larger than anything in Europe, costing some $5bn.  It wants to make Istanbul a global hub and boost its chances of getting the Olympics in 2020. Turkey is well situated geographically for traffic between the USA and Europe, and the Far East. It is therefore in competition with other Middle East and Gulf countries, which are also building mega-sized airports, such as Dubai and Doha (capital of Qatar). A tender will be held in may for the Turkish airport.  This would be the third airport for Istanbul, which already has Ataturk airport, and Sabiha airport – which handle around 45 million and 15 million passengers respectively per year. The new airport will be near the Black Sea, and is anticipated to be able to cope with 150 million passengers per year. By contrast, Heathrow deals with some 69 million, and Atlanta – the world’s busiest airport – handles some 90 million per year. The plans are for the new 6 runway airport to be open by 2017.





Third Istanbul airport to be formed in northwest

ISTANBUL – Doğan News Agency

Istanbul’s third airport will likely be built in the Terkos Lake area, Mayor Kadir Topbaş has said.

“Following the advice of our prime minister, we are starting the construction of a new Istanbul airport with five or six runways and a passenger capacity of 100 million in the short term, which will be increased to 150 million,” Topbaş said, adding that Atatürk Airport’s current capacity was 34 million passengers.

Topbaş said the Terkos Lake area, 50 kilometers north of Istanbul on the Black Sea coast, was a very strong possibility for the airport’s location.

Topbaş said Atatürk Airport was insufficient to handle the city’s air traffic, particularly in regards to strong southwestern winds.

A third airport in Istanbul, the largest city in the country, has long been on the agenda as Atatürk Airport on the European side and Sabiha Gökçen airport on the Asian side are struggling to meet the city’s rising demands, particularly as national flag carrier Turkish Airlines boosts its flights and the city attracts more visitors.Topbaş said the airport would be built on a deserted site to preserve the area’s natural, forested environment, adding that a proposal for the project would likely be initiated by the end of the year.

Topbaş also said the construction of a third bridge to span the Bosphorus in Istanbul would be completed by 2015 or 2016. 
The recent announcement of a series of huge infrastructural projects to be parachuted onto the northern area of Istanbul – a third airport, a new city for millions on the coast of the Black Sea, a new canal to mitigate the pressure on The Bosporus, and a new highway connecting all these projects to Europe and Asia, which will cross the Bosporus over a new, third bridge – raises questions about the soundness of the city’s sustainability policy. Unless ecological interests will be integrated into the new plans, natural resources, especially sweet water supplies, will come under serious threat.