Court Stops Removal of Trees for Puglia Pipeline

A Lazio court's decision to suspend the environment ministry’s permit blocks the uprooting of trees until at least April 19th, when an appeal from Puglia's regional government against the permit will be heard.

By Julie Al-Zoubi
Apr. 11, 2017 09:00 UTC

The Lazio Regional Administrative Court (TAR) halted the uproot­ing of olive trees to make way for the con­tro­ver­sial Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP). The April 6 rul­ing over­turned the Italian government’s autho­riza­tion relo­ca­tion of the trees from a grove in Melendugno, Puglia.

TAR’s deci­sion to sus­pend the envi­ron­ment ministry’s per­mit blocks the uproot­ing of trees until at least April 19th, when an appeal from Puglia’s regional gov­ern­ment against the per­mit will be heard.

We are doing every­thing in our power to ensure the already uprooted olive trees on the site remain safe and healthy.- Ulrike Andres, TAP External Affairs Director

The lat­est rul­ing is a fur­ther blow to the TAP project which had until the end of April to move the olive trees before their sea­sonal growth spurt begins; oth­er­wise or wait until September. The com­mence­ment of the pipeline has already been delayed by a year.

On March 7th, a TAP spokesman told Reuters, We’re going to start mov­ing the olives in a few days.” Around 33 trees were uprooted before pro­test­ers forced the work to cease.

Ulrike Andres, com­mer­cial and exter­nal affairs direc­tor at TAP told Olive Oil Times, TAP con­tin­ues to col­lab­o­rate with all the author­i­ties involved in the process to resume its activ­i­ties on the ground. Following the deci­sion of the Lazio TAR on 6 April, TAP tem­porar­ily halted the removal and trans­porta­tion of trees until 19 April, when the next hear­ing will be held.”

Andres added, We are doing every­thing in our power to ensure the already uprooted olive trees on the site remain safe and healthy. TAP’s sched­ule is at risk if olive trees are not moved by end of April. TAP is hope­ful that it will move the olive trees by April and that it will deliver gas to Italy in 2020.”

The first sec­tion of the TAP requires the removal of 231 olive trees from the pipeline’s micro-tun­nel area. Sixteen of these trees are reg­is­tered as mon­u­men­tal olive trees.” Andres told Olive Oil Times, TAP is work­ing closely with the rel­e­vant regional author­i­ties to estab­lish the best way (with the least envi­ron­men­tal impact) to move these 16 mon­u­men­tal olive trees.”

A fur­ther 2,000 trees will be moved from the 8 km pipeline route and the total num­ber of olive trees to be moved could hit 10,000, if the Snnam sec­tion from the TAP pipeline receiv­ing ter­mi­nal to Brindisi is taken into account.

It is impor­tant to high­light that the trees will be tem­porar­ily cared for in a nurs­ery area, and later planted in their orig­i­nal loca­tions,” Andres said.

The pipeline was orig­i­nally given the go-ahead by Rome in 2015 with the stip­u­la­tion that olive trees were to be trans­planted dur­ing the work and then returned to their orig­i­nal sites.

Andres said, The Single Authorisation (SA) per­mit granted by the Ministry of Economy to TAP on 20 May 2015 remains legally valid and effec­tive, as stated in the same Decree of TAR Lazio.”

Local author­i­ties have fought for the pipeline to be rerouted to an indus­trial area to the north of the olive grove.

The €4.5‑billion pipeline is the final leg of the $40 bil­lion Southern Gas Corridor, which will trans­port Asian gas to Europe. The pipeline was sched­uled to deliver its first gas to Italy in 2020.


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