The fight continues in Italy over plans for a high-speed rail link

Posted: 06/03/2012

The people of Val di Susa, a magnificent Alpine valley on the Italian border with France, have been fighting to save its natural beauty from a high-speed rail link set to run through their village. They have been campaigning to prevent a high speed train track being built from France through Italy as they claim it would cause vast environmental damage.

The French end of the tunnel which is already 57km long, the longest through the Alps, is well under way but on the Italian side, not one molecule of soil has been shovelled. This should not be the case as the Italian Prime Minister, Mario Monti, reaffirmed his country’s commitment to the project last week, so what force is preventing this rail link to be built?

A week ago, 70,000 protesters turned out to march against the construction of the train track and are planning a general strike to show their support for the conservation of the Italian valley.

A veteran leader of the ‘No TAV’ movement (TAV is an abbreviation of the Italian word for high-speed train) Alberto Peroni, has given a defiant speech, yet also choosing a tone of mockery to address his country’s Prime Minister; ‘Dear Monti, you are in Rome and you want to build the TAV. We are in the Susa Valley and we don’t want it. We are people who don’t give in.’ Mr Peroni announced his speech in front of a crowd of 1,000 campaigners after suffering a broken elbow from a police officers truncheon in clashes a week before.

This battle has been going on for many years now but has only just made front-page national news, this could be due to the vast amount of objection from the protesters regarding the environmental damages this rail link would cause.

It is believed that the mountains the railway tracks are planned to be laid through have high levels of Uranium and Asbestos. The health consequences if the mountains were tunnelled through could be fatal to those who live in the valley as the poisons would be unleashed into the air.

There is also a fear the disturbances from the construction site could dry up the springs and streams nearby as this has happened to villages where motorways have been build close by. The town of Susa is also very dependent on the tourists that come to visit its natural beauty and the business owners fear that if the tracks were laid through their valley, there would be a decline in tourists, leading to the closure of businesses and livelihoods lost.

Corrado, a local engineer from a nearby town, explained to Peter Popham from The Independent, why there is so much anger and defiance from the inhabitants of Susa: ‘On the French side they took the locals into their confidence. They held a public inquiry and listened to their doubts and misgivings, so when the project got under way the community was behind it. Here there was no consultation even though a public inquiry is a statutory obligation. They merely descended and ordered work to get under way. No wonder people were alienated.’

The dispute continues with no resolve looking likely any time soon.

Amanda McGovern, Pali Ltd

www.paliltd.com

(1) Comments italy, tourism, land, dispute, train
Searchcode Logo copso Logo Ipsa Logo