The recently-unveiled 10-year governmental transport plan pledges some 94,000 billion lire (£28 billion) towards rail and 74,000 billion lire (£22 billion) to improving road systems, and pledges to “stabilise emissions from the transport sector”. The plan also encourages more movement of goods by a combination of ship and rail over longer distances, recognising that 60% of freight is currently transported by road, and seeks to reduce car journeys for passengers, which account for 85% of all trips made.

However, for Italy’s two biggest environmental groups, the World Wide Fund for Nature and Lagambiente, the plan is too vague, and the investment figures are simply “a trick”. “What the plan does not say is that, whereas the new money for roads, including the building of 12 new motorways, is for future investments, half the money for rail is for projects that have already been financed or have been begun,” Legambiente’s Chief Transport Researcher, Edoardo Zanchini, told edie on 31 October.

“Although it is welcome to have a transport plan in the first place as we have been asking for it for years, it includes no specific targets for reducing the reliance on road transport, and no mention of conducting Environmental Impact Assessments for new motorways, which are due to become part of Italian law,” Zanchini said. He claimed that pollution was already a particular problem in the industrial northwest, which accounts for 60% of the country’s traffic, but only 2% of Italy’s road network. The area is also the site of several of the new proposed motorways, including the major Milan to Breschia route.

The environmentalists also heavily criticise the plan’s failure to address greenhouse gas reductions. Whilst Italy’s legal commitment under the Kyoto climate protocol is to reduce CO2 emissions by 6.5% on 1990 levels by 2008-2012, the plan promises no reductions in the transport sector.

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