Italy ignores EIA obligations

Italy has come under fire from the EC for failing to carry out an in-depth environmental impact assessment for a major incinerator.

Commission v Italy (Case C-486/04)

The Advocate General issued his Opinion on 30 May 2006, in the case of Commission v Italy (Case C-486/04).

The case concerned allegations that Italy had failed to comply with its obligations under Articles 2(1), 4(1), 4(2) and 4(3) of the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Directive (Directive 85/337/EEC as amended by Directive 97/11/EEC).

In particular, the Commission sought a declaration of the Court to the effect that Italy had failed in its obligations in the following three respects:

  • by not subjecting the Massafra WDF and biomass incineration plant project, which is a plant included in Annex I to the EIA Directive to an environmental impact assessment in accordance with Articles 5 to 10 of that Directive;

  • by not adopting legislation which excludes from the EIA procedure any projects falling within Annex I to the EIA Directive (projects for installations for the recovery of hazardous waste and non-hazardous waste with a capacity exceeding 100 tonnes per day) if subject to the simplified authorisation procedure within the meaning of Article 11 of the Waste Framework Directive (Directive 75/442/EEC); and

  • by adopting legislation which, for the purposes of establishing whether or not a project falling within Annex II of the EIA Directive must be the subject of an environmental impact assessment (EIA), sets an inadequate test in that projects which have a significant impact on the environment can be excluded from an EIA.

    The Advocate General found the requests of the Commission to be justified on all three counts and therefore recommended that the Italy be found to be in breach of Articles 2(1), 4(1), 4(2) and 4(3) of the EIA Directive. Whether the ECJ will follow the opinion of the Advocate General will be determined once the case comes before the ECJ.

    The full opinion of the Advocate General can be found at the following link in a variety of European languages and should shortly be available in English.

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