Italian minister causes furore over 162 MW Molise project

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Italy's media went into overdrive on wind power last month when the country's public works minister, Antonio Di Pietro, contested a project to build a 162 MW wind plant off the coast of the region of Molise. Di Pietro, who hails from Molise, has no say in whether or not the plant would eventually be authorised. But he charges that it is planned for a unique and unspoiled area with little wind. He is not the only local up in arms over the proposal. The regional government also registered its disquiet last month over the project's visual impact. In contrast, environmental associations Legambiente and Greenpeace have come out in favour of it. The offshore proposal is not new, despite what the general press believes. Milan-based Effeventi presented its environmental impact study for the project to Italy's environment ministry, which asked for some minor modifications to the proposal, in November 2005. Molise has a representative on the committee in the ministry examining the proposal. The requested changes are now being finalised, says Effeventi's Luca Wagner. Last year, an application for a construction permit was lodged with the transport ministry and the project was also presented to the culture ministry and the regional government that is now opposing it. Should the proposal eventually be cleared, Wagner says Effeventi has already chosen to use Vestas 3 MW machines. Effeventi, formed by a group of engineers, was assisted by a team from the physics department of the University of Genoa in identifying a good site. While regional governments play the lead role in the authorisation of onshore wind projects, permits for offshore development are requested primarily from national authorities, although the region also weighs in during the approval process. Italy currently has no offshore wind plants, although a few other projects are in preliminary stages.

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