An Italian court has rejected an appeal against the uprooting of olive trees from an olive grove in Puglia to make way for the Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP). The ruling revoked an order handed down earlier this month to halt work and gave TAP developers the green light to remove and replant up to 10,000 olive trees.
Once works can safely resume, the remaining olive trees could be removed and replanted in a matter of days.
TAP workers plan to resume removing the olive trees in the next few days. Time is running out for the company which has to move the first batch of trees before their seasonal growth spurt begins at the end of April, or delay their uprooting until November.
Lisa Givert, TAP head of communications told Olive oil Times, “Following today’s positive decision of the TAR (Tribunale Amministrativo Regionale) Lazio, TAP continues to collaborate with all the authorities involved in the process to resume its activities on the ground as soon as possible in order to remain on schedule.”
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“Once works can safely resume, the remaining olive trees could be removed and replanted in a matter of days,” Givert said.
231 olive trees from the project’s micro-tunnel area are marked to be uprooted and replanted during the initial phase, including 16 “monumental olive trees.” Ulrike Andres, TAP commercial and external affairs director 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.”
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A further 2,000 olive trees will be removed from the pipeline’s 8km route from the micro-tunnel to the pipeline receiving terminal. Up to 10,000 olive trees in total are listed for removal along the ‘Snam’ section from the TAP pipeline to the receiving terminal at Brindisi.
Andres added, “It is important to highlight that the trees will be temporarily cared for in a nursery area, and later replanted in their original locations.”
Removal of the olive trees has already been delayed by more than a year due to opposition from locals, the town council, and the regional government. In March, work on uprooting the trees began but was halted by protests. The protests escalated into battles between bottle throwing activists and the police.
Local authorities have campaigned for the pipeline to be rerouted to an industrial area further north of the olive grove. Other locations were considered but rejected, but earlier this month Carlo Calenda, Italian industry minister told Reuters, “It’s not possible to change landfall of Trans Adriatic Pipeline that will bring Azeri gas into Italy. Changing it would mean not building the pipeline.”
Work on the TAP was scheduled to begin last year. Delays have shortened the construction timetable and could mean the failure of the company’s goal to deliver the first gas to Italy in 2020.
The €4.5 billion pipeline is the final leg of the $40 billion Southern Gas Corridor, which will transport Asian gas to Europe.