New Clashes in Puglia As 42 Olive Trees Are Moved for Pipeline

Contractors are preparing to uproot another 1,800 olive trees along a five-mile route of the Trans Adriatic Pipeline. Up to 10,000 olive trees could be moved to enable construction of the entire $4.5-billion project.

By Julie Al-Zoubi
Jul. 12, 2017 10:27 UTC

Last week Puglia once again became the scene of clashes between police and pro­test­ers, as envi­ron­men­tal­ists tried to pre­vent the removal of the last 42 of 200 ancient olive trees, stand­ing in the way of the con­tro­ver­sial Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP).

We did every­thing in our power to ensure the trees remain healthy, water­ing the olive trees every 2 to 3 days.- Lisa Givert, TAP Head of Communications

The 42 olive trees which sparked last week’s protest had been uprooted in April and placed in con­tain­ers. Olive trees can­not be uprooted dur­ing their rapid growth spurt (May 1st and Nov 30th), but uprooted olive trees can be moved through­out the year.

Lisa Givert, TAP’s Head of Communications told Olive Oil Times, Due to pro­test­ers bar­ri­cad­ing the site, TAP was unable to move the olive trees to the nurs­ery area before early July. However, we did every­thing in our power to ensure the trees remain healthy, water­ing the olive trees every 2 to 3 days.”

Despite the lat­est round of protests, in which roads were blocked to pre­vent removal of the olive trees and TAP trucks were van­dal­ized, Givert said, TAP has removed the first set of olive trees as planned. The sched­ule remains and TAP con­tin­ues to work towards being ready to deliver the first gas from Shah Deniz in 2020.”

According to Givert, TAP has now removed all 210 olive trees in the micro-tun­nel area (the last set of 42 trees were trans­ported on the morn­ing of July 4). The trees were moved to a nearby nurs­ery (Masseria del Capitano) where they will be stored and metic­u­lously cared for until they can be replanted at their orig­i­nal loca­tion, once works have fin­ished.”

TAP has con­structed a pro­tec­tive canopy for the olive trees and put in place an irri­ga­tion sys­tem.

Givert added, The olive trees housed in the nurs­ery are looked after in line with the best agri­cul­tural prac­tices, as per the Olive Trees Management Plan, approved by the Apulia Region. Nets pro­tect the trees from the Xylella bac­te­ria and irri­ga­tion chan­nels have been built.”

The removal of the first batch of trees meant that TAP could press on with the sec­ond phase of the project, which involves the removal of a fur­ther 2,000 olive trees from the pipeline’s 8km route, from the micro-tun­nel to the pipeline receiv­ing ter­mi­nal (PRT).

In total up to 10,000 olive trees includ­ing some classed as mon­u­men­tal” are marked for removal dur­ing con­struc­tion of the $4.5‑billion pipeline which will trans­port nat­ural gas from the Caspian Sea to Italy.

Givert added, In a sec­ond stage, TAP needs to move and store approx­i­mately 1,800 olive trees along the pipeline’s 8km route, from the micro-tun­nel exit to the Pipeline Receiving Terminal (PRT) before replant­ing them at their orig­i­nal site, when works are fin­ished. TAP will remove the sec­ond set of olive trees as soon as the Verifications of Compliance (VoC or sec­ondary per­mit­ting activ­i­ties) are released by the com­pe­tent author­i­ties.

Protests against the removal of ancient olive trees for the pipeline began in March when TAP announced they were about to start uproot­ing the olive trees.

The project had already been delayed by a year due to strong local oppo­si­tion. At the height of the protests, Puglia descended into a bat­tle­ground with armed police charg­ing as activists threw stones and bot­tles.

TAP’s tim­ing for removal of the lat­est 42 trees was also crit­i­cized by the local mayor, Marco Poti who claimed the com­pany had agreed to sus­pend activ­i­ties between June and September when tourists flock to Puglia’s resorts. TAP defended this deci­sion as nec­es­sary for the pro­tec­tion and well­be­ing of the uprooted trees.

The Italian gov­ern­ment clas­si­fied TAP as a strate­gic project, which meant that local objec­tions were over­ruled. Campaigners failed in their attempts to have the pipeline sited fur­ther north, in an indus­trial region of Puglia,

The TAP is the final leg of the 2,200-mile-long Southern Gas Corridor which will trans­port gas from Asia to Europe, a project seen as essen­tial in reduc­ing the EU’s depen­dence on Russian energy.


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