Italy to face court over waste crisis

The European Commission is taking Italy to court for failing to effectively resolve the waste crisis that has plagued Naples and the surrounding region of Campania.

Piles of rubbish were left uncollected in the streets in spring 2007 and again in the winter, leading some frustrated residents to set fire to the waste.

Although the crisis has eased since the appointment of a Waste Emergency Commissioner for the region, EU chiefs said the measures taken so far will not solve the crisis in the long term.

Rome will now have to face the European Court of Justice (ECJ) and could be hit with massive fines for breaching the EU's Waste Framework Directive.

Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas said: "The piles of uncollected rubbish in the streets of Campania graphically illustrates the threat to the environment and human health that results when waste management is inadequate.

"Italy needs to give priority to putting in place effective waste management plans as well as the collection and treatment infrastructure needed to implement them properly."

The Commission said Italian authorities have been unable to give a clear timetable for the completion and opening of landfills, incinerators and other infrastructure needed to resolve the problems in the tourist hotspot of Campania, which is home to the picturesque Amalfi Coast and the historic town of Pompeii.

The Commission is also issuing a first written warning to Italy for failing to adopt a regional waste management plan in the Lazio region which lies to the north of Campania and includes the Italian capital Rome.

Following an ECJ judgement last June about the problems in Lazio, the Commission can issue two written warnings to Italy before taking the country to court.

The waste problems will be among the first challenges that new Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi will face after being sworn into office last Thursday.

Kate Martin



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