Ciampino, Citizens’ Committee against the early closure of the Airport Environmental Assessment at the Ministry of the Environment
It is necessary to avoid the risk that the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) of Ciampino Airport ends up in nothing for the citizens, to the benefit of the airport operator AdR and Enac.
On 13 September, the CRIAAC Committee sent a letter of protest to the Ministry of the Environment, published also in the EIA documentation (https://va.minambiente.it/File/Documento/423493), to the effect that the EIA should not proceed with the early closure of the EIA or with the simultaneous withdrawal to Enac and AdR of all the authorisations already granted.
As established by European regulations, the EIA of Ciampino Airport must be carried out starting from 1999, when the indiscriminate development of the airport began, not from 2013, when the environmental damage was already done, as AdR and Enac wanted instead.
All the more so since we are still waiting for Minister Costa’s decree of December 2018 to be implemented, for the reduction of flights at Ciampino Airport, and for the modification of the current “new experimental take-off route” which, for 21 months, has dramatically worsened the lives of the inhabitants of Marino, who have suddenly found themselves exposed to an enormous amount of take-offs.
These are the facts.
By means of its “executive decree”, also published on the Ministerial site of the Environmental Assessments, the competent Directorate General (CreSS) of the Ministry of the Environment ordered Enac to submit, by 25 September 2020, the documentation to complete the environmental assessment for the years from 1999 to 2013, which are absent in the current documentation.
In the event that this documentation is not submitted, “the procedure will be closed based on the documentation on file”. Therefore without taking into account the environmental damage produced between 1999 and 2013.
The “simplifications” introduced by the recent changes to environmental legislation risk, in this case, causing a “short circuit” to the detriment of citizens.
The push to simplify procedures must not ignore the need to protect citizens’ rights, brutally violated for years, and push the Ministry of the Environment to close the Environmental Assessment procedure of the Ciampino Airport development plan in advance, perhaps with too much haste, ignoring the prescriptions introduced by the EU and ending up damaging, as always, the citizens of Ciampino, Marino and southern Rome, who are seriously affected by excessive air traffic.
Paradoxically and in contradiction with the role it should play, despite the fact that the airport development project and the money to carry it out come from Aeroporti di Roma, the person who went to propose and defend the environmental assessment to the Ministry of the Environment was Enac, which appears as the “proposer”.
But what is happening at the Ministry of the Environment these days?
What is happening is that the request for environmental authorisation for the development plan presented by Enac was already partially granted on August 2, 2017, with a “positive” opinion from the Technical Commission for Environmental Assessment, which then stopped in its opinion, reminding the competent superior bodies of the Ministry that two issues raised by the European Community remain unresolved:1. The environmental assessment must be carried out starting from 1999 and not from 2013 as it is in the plan presented by Enac;
2. It is possible and necessary to remedy this environmental assessment, made later than the actual start of the project, with a new “ex-post” (posthumous) assessment starting from 1999, the actual start date of the development project.
The first problem arose following our Committee’s request for EU infringement proceedings in 2014. No environmental assessment procedure had ever been carried out for Ciampino airport, despite the fact that the law had been in force since 1987 and the development of the airport, with related works, had already started in 1999 (as the Community survey on the airport then established: “EU Pilot 6876/14/envi”).
The second problem derives from the ruling of 26 July 2017 by the Court of Justice of the European Union which, referring to a different but similar case to that of Ciampino airport, established the general principle that Community regulations do not prevent a Community country from making an environmental amnesty (“ex-post”) assessment for a project started without prior environmental assessment.
Therefore, the environmental assessment of Ciampino Airport must be remedied by including in the EIA the assessment of the environmental damage produced from 1999 to 2013. Thirteen years ignored by the project presented by Enac and ADR. Thirteen fundamental years because before 1999 Ciampino Airport had never exceeded one million passengers per year, while since 1999, with the advent of low-cost, it has rapidly increased to over 5 million passengers.
From August 2017 to April 2020, the Technical Commission, with a further three “opinions”, reiterated to the Ministry the need to comply with EU regulations.
It is now clear that Enac and AdR have no interest in making further efforts to produce new documentation, given that the possible early closure of the EIA would leave them in charge, without further risk, of the authorisation to proceed with the completion of the airport development plan, contained in the first opinion of the Technical Commission.
In order to counter the risk that this solution would represent for the citizens, our Committee sent on 13 September a letter to the Ministry of the Environment, the Region and the affected Municipalities to ask that, in order to protect the citizens, on 25 September, in the event of early closure of the EIA due to failure to deliver the necessary documentation to continue it, the first opinion of the Technical Commission that authorised the work be cancelled.