60% of the agricultural areas, 22% of urban areas, and 19% of the natural lands in Italy are overwhelmed by massive buildings and unregulated activities; wonders disappearing forever under a wide, terrible casting-concrete. These facts were communicated during the conference “Consumption of soil and hydrogeological instability – Sustainability, innovation and legality for the territory” that took place at the House of Architecture in Rome. Today, 7% of our territory has been directly eroded, which means a 158% increase compared to the ’50s, with the result that 100 thousand people have lost the possibility to feed themselves with Italian high-quality products. In a period during which the world is revaluing the kilometre zero and biodiversity, the damage is enormous, not only for the environment but also for our economy. All this is caused by unscrupulous enterprises, dishonesty and by a policy still colluded with the underworld. In the introductory notes to the conference prepared by Patrizia Colletta, Director of the Architects PPC of Rome and president of the Dipse, we can read that the infrastructures are the major cause of land degradation, representing in 2013 about 40% of the total consumed territory.
Ispra shows a dramatic situation in its 2015 “Report on the Consumption of Soil”. The most serious case is the one on the coast: almost 20% of the Italian coastline – more than 500 square kilometres – is compromised. 19.4% of land between 0 and 300 meters away from the coast has been eroded as well as almost 16% of land between 300 and 1000 meters away. 34 thousand hectares in protected areas have been eroded too – 9% of hydrogeological risk areas and 5% of the riverside and lakeshore. What is truly destroying our natural heritage is the unauthorised development, an Italian plague attributable to “the crisis of urbanism and to the bad choices of the government, in addition to a real lack of respect for rules and civic sense”. Moreover, continued Colletta, “the recent unedifying news about town-planning, construction industry and public contracts show a distressing and alarming situation.” Furthermore they show a country which is unable to face natural disasters due to hydrogeological instability, which is suffering the consequences of a past characterized by bad policies of building amnesties and by urban interventions made in unurbanized areas at high hydrogeological risk.
“In this country we need engineers, but we also need a good psychiatric, since we continue to build immoderately, especially in areas at high hydrogeological and seismic risk”, this is what Erasmo D’Angelis said, chief of the #ItaliaSicura, a project that fights against hydrogeological instability and that promotes hydro-infrastructures. All this drama is caused by “permissive legislation and by unauthorised development, but above all by an ignorance that is still useful to keep a confused legislation, in order to avoid every norm that can be avoided, with often dramatic consequences”. D’Angelis talked about the discussions – “often shocking discussions” – with the local administration of cities and towns at higher landslide risk. “We go where villas and houses collapse and when we ask for the building permit, the mayor of the city answers ‘here everything was built so’, or ‘we have half the city built illegally’”. The problem is that in Italy “in the last 70 years the built environment has passed from 2.3% built in two thousand years to 7%. In 70 years we have tripled the percentage”. We also built “in areas where the place names should have been a warning in themselves: in Bagno, Bagnoletto, Settebagni, Punta Maledetta, Affogalasino street” he listed. “there are a lot of place names like these: the Frana road that leads to Frana for example” (Frana means landslide in Italian). In short “sometimes both eyes were turned blind on building in certain areas” – continued D’Angelis – “not taking into account the seismic risk. In Italy we have everything: earthquakes, volcanoes, hydrogeological instability. It’s incredible, this country should have been treated kindly, instead we have built everywhere”. The result is that “today we have 7.5 million buildings that can collapse at any moment, because they are built in seismic areas”. For this reason today the main business is to redevelop the territory and the building policy in order to limit the risks. And to obtain this it is necessary to create a “real conscience”. What the chief of #ItaliaSicura suggested is to institute “a moratorium against the consumption of soil, as the one instituted by only four regions: Apulia, Tuscany, Liguria, and Lombardy”. In these regions, the areas at higher risk are subjected to environmentally protective restrictions. It is not allowed to build there, that’s all.”
Meanwhile, something is happening in politics. To complete the financing of the program agreements signed in 2010 and to complete as soon as possible the mitigation of the hydrogeological risk, the Environment Ministry is preparing the legal documents necessary to attribute to the regions in central and northern Italy 83 million 650 thousand Euro, provided for by the Fund of Development and Cohesion ,but not assigned, intervening with its budgetary resources. These funds – explained the Ministry of Environment in a note – added up to the 50 million and 947 thousand Euro already transferred, will cover the 134 million and 596 thousand Euro of resources that the Fund of Development and Cohesion never assigned. “We want to accelerate the realization of these works, in order to put an end to the era of bureaucratic slowness that too often in the past prevented us from securing many territories at risk in Italy – said the Minister Gianluca Galletti – It is a necessary operation, which will accompany the new plan against the hydrogeological instability that will be operative over the next seven years.”
Translation provided by Maria Rosaria Mastropaolo