TAP 'Confidant' as Trial Looms, Prepares to Replant Uprooted Trees

The Trans Adriatic Pipeline said the company is confident ahead of the upcoming trial. Replanting of the olive trees at issue in the trial is scheduled to begin in February.

Olive trees removed by TAP waiting to be replanted.
Jan. 26, 2020
By Julie Al-Zoubi
Olive trees removed by TAP waiting to be replanted.

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Vugar Veysalov, the head of exter­nal affairs for the Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP), told Olive Oil Times the com­pany would coop­er­ate dur­ing its upcom­ing trial and remained con­fi­dent it would be found not guilty on all counts.

Veysalov’s state­ment comes as the TAP pre­pares to face charges of unlaw­fully uproot­ing olive trees and caus­ing envi­ron­men­tal dam­age in Italy’s Puglia region.

In February TAP is due to start the replant­ing of the olive trees back to their orig­i­nal loca­tion, fol­low­ing an analy­sis con­firm­ing that they are still Xylella free.- Vugar Veysalov, TAP’s head of exter­nal affairs

TAP is con­fi­dent in prov­ing the cor­rect­ness, under all points of view, of the con­duct of the com­pany and its man­agers,” he said.

Olive Oil Times requested an update on the sta­tus of the olive trees which TAP had uprooted to make way for the gas pipeline — an action that sparked wide­spread protests.

See Also: Trans Adriatic Pipeline

In February TAP is due to start the replant­ing of the olive trees back to their orig­i­nal loca­tion, fol­low­ing an analy­sis con­firm­ing that they are still Xylella free,” Veysalov replied.

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Photos pro­vided by the com­pany appear to show the remain­ing olive trees are in good con­di­tion.

Veysalov added that a total of 2,109 olive trees had been affected by the project and that 351 (16.6 per­cent) of the trees had been pre­served on-site” while 1,189 (56.4 per­cent) had been tem­porar­ily relo­cated to a stor­age area.

According to Veysalov, 563 trees (26.7 per­cent) were destroyed after com­pe­tent phy­tosan­i­tary author­i­ties” con­cluded they were infected with Xylella fas­tidiosa and six of the ill-fated trees (0.3 per­cent) were said to have dried nat­u­rally” or been destroyed by acci­dent.”

Veysalov reit­er­ated claims made by the com­pany in 2017 that the TAP project in Italy would impact around 2,100 olive trees. At that time the com­pany denied claims that up to 10,000 olive trees would be uprooted to make way for the con­tro­ver­sial gas pipeline.

The com­pany insisted that a max­i­mum of 2,300 olive trees had been ear­marked for removal — a cal­cu­la­tion based on 231 trees which stood in the pro­jec­t’s micro-tun­nel area plus a fur­ther 2,000 which lined the eight-kilo­me­ter (five-mile) route from the micro-tun­nel to the pipeline’s receiv­ing ter­mi­nal.

At that time a TAP spokesper­son con­ceded, the 10,000 fig­ure is if we include the Snam sec­tion from the TAP pipeline receiv­ing ter­mi­nal to Brindisi.”

The com­pany was keen to point out their com­mit­ment to car­ing for the healthy olive trees and even­tu­ally return­ing them to their orig­i­nal sites.

Being stored in the nurs­ery ensures that risk of infec­tion from the Xylella fas­tidiosa bac­terium, cur­rently threat­en­ing olive trees in Italy, can be pre­vented,” a rep­re­sen­ta­tive of TAP said.

Veysalov con­firmed that the loom­ing court case had not halted work on the pipeline. Works onshore and off­shore con­tinue in line with the project sched­ule,” he said.

The pipeline’s con­struc­tion is report­edly on sched­ule. Veysalov added that 91 per­cent of the engi­neer­ing, pro­cure­ment and con­struc­tion phases had been com­pleted by the end of December 2019.

Ninety-nine per­cent of the pipes between Greece, Albania and Italy are in the ground and rein­state­ment along the route is 99 per­cent com­plete.


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