A fight against ideological bias

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Regional Italian wind energy developments are being blocked by local branches of the ministry of culture, a Milan lawyer has warned. Even projects strongly supported by local governments are having trouble, says Simona Viola of law firm Studio Legale Bucello Croci Piscitelli Viola.

Viola is involved with the appeals process of two projects in central Italy: a 34 MW project in the Marches and a 25 MW project in Umbria that have both been blocked by their respective Soprintendenza dei Beni Culturali, the regional representatives of Italy's cultural ministry. "The cases are quite similar in that they were supported by all the local administrations -- from the regions to the provinces and the towns themselves -- and underwent a very serious environmental impact assessment process," notes Viola.

The cultural ministry's local representatives in many regions have an ideological bias against wind energy, according to Viola. She says that Italy's 1985 Galasso law imposed a series of restrictions to protect the natural landscape in zones with certain characteristics, such as woodlands or proximity to a river. "The superintendent officers take advantage of this," she says, explaining that restricted areas are not necessarily beautiful or unique.

The blocked Marches wind farm is promoted by the Comunità Montana di Camerino, a local agency grouping 13 municipalities with a combined population of 15,000, and is located on land picked out specifically by the region. The project underwent an extensive pre-selection, says Paolo Marchetti of the agency's sustainable development arm, and was also seen as a way to provide jobs in a zone plagued by a declining population.

Of the Umbria project, which is promoted by local renewable energy development group Alta Tevere Energie Rinnovabili, Viola says the plant is not very visible and is on a relatively run-of-the-mill site.

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