The Israel Land Administration has rejected a request by Gilad Sharon, the son of former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, to build a solar energy facility on a nine-dunam (1.7-acre) site at the family's Hashikmim Farm in the Negev.
Two years ago, "Globes" reported that the building permit for the solar farm Sharon obtained from the Shimonim Local Planning and Building Commission was probably illegal. The Israel Land Administration's rejection of the request was based on a legal opinion by its deputy legal counsel, who found that the Administration's right to allow the construction of solar farms did not apply to the Sharon's farm because the land is not allotted for agriculture or under agricultural conditions, as is the case for kibbutzim and moshavim.
The Israel Land Administration allows kibbutzim and moshavim to build solar farms, even though this is not agriculture, because it wants to encourage employment by their residents.
Sharon planned to build two mid-sized 630-kilowatt solar systems, at a cost estimated in 2010 at NIS 15 million. Two small 50-kilowatt rooftop solar systems are already installed at Hashikmim Farm. These systems do not require lengthy approval procedures. The permit for the mid-sized facility by the Shimonim Planning Commission was based on a detailed building plan from the 1980s, which permits the construction of engineering facilities at the farm, but does not permit the sale of electricity to Israel Electric Corporation (IEC) (TASE: ELEC.B22) as solar farms do.
Ariel Sharon bought the 5,000-dunam (1,250-acre) Hashikmim Farm in 1972. It is not on private land, but on land leased by the family from the Israel Land Administration.
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on February 6, 2013
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