It was exactly a month ago when even our mainstream press couldn’t help but register (to the general consternation) the not inconsiderable uncertainty on the part of the French government about its willingness to proceed with the trumpeted Great Work according to the timetable agreed especially with Europe, which should guarantee financial coverage for a substantial portion of the work. To tell the truth, this consternation is more ritual than anything else, the French government’s reluctance to take a stand on a front that is anything but a priority has been known for quite some time, or certainly since last year. But so what, ‘great is the confusion under the sky’, summarised Alberto Poggio (a member of the Technical Commission of the NoTav Movement) a few days ago, and it is precisely in this delicate but very interesting conjuncture that the umpteenth Initiative/Appeal that the NoTav Movement (in the person of Paolo Prieri of PresidioEuropa) has addressed to the European Parliament in recent days is situated.
An appeal that we repropose here in its entirety for the completeness of the arguments and that was sent to the attention of President Roberta Metsola and to some twenty deputies particularly sensitive to the NO to Tav reasons. And an initiative that significantly comes just a few days before the demonstration called for 17/18 June in Maurienne, promoted by a galaxy of French environmentalist groups (the Soulevements de la Terre, the Confederation Paysanne, and many others, in addition to the local VAM-Vivre et Agir en Maurienne,) together with the NoTav Valsusino Movement and quite a few buses that will be joining them from various parts of Italy.
A very interesting and hopefully decisive situation, which we as Pressenza will not fail to follow.
Lyon-Turin, a Crime against the Environment
What Project Are We Talking About?
Lyon-Turin is a project for a new railway line that includes Europe’s longest twin-tube tunnel under the Alps, 57.5 km long and with a total length, including the national access lines to the tunnel between Lyon and Turin, of 270 km. Its cost is estimated at over €30 billion.
The European Union is ready to finance the construction of this Mega Project, which it defines as being in line with the European Green Deal.
But for more than 30 years, Italian, French and European citizens have been opposing this project, which they describe as a crime against the environment.
Opposition to the Project and Citizens’ Right to Know
Between Lyon and Turin, there is already a line in operation that is underused at around 25% of its capacity, and whatever the performance of a new project, when you don’t use what you have, you destroy the environment.
This is a project that has been imposed on the territories without any real democratic process, as required by the Århus Convention to which the European Union, Italy and France have signed up.
The construction sites already set up by TELT for geological prospecting and preliminary work relevant to the base tunnel have for years been militarily protected like fortresses.
Citizens, for reasons of public order and security, and MEPs themselves, are being denied full access to documents relating to the financing and progress of the Lyon-Turin project. The overriding public interest in the dissemination of information for public scrutiny is therefore also being flouted.
For decades, popular opposition has been violently suppressed by the army and the police, in agreement with the public prosecutors, while the courts have already handed down dozens of prison sentences.
Inconsistencies with European legislation
Addressing the European Council and Parliament on the European Green Deal, the Commission stressed the need to systematically assess the consistency between existing legislation and the new priorities. In order to ensure that all Green Deal initiatives achieve their objectives, the Commission requires that all legislative proposals and delegated acts include a memorandum containing a specific section explaining how each initiative complies with the “do no harm” principle.
The realisation of this project does not respect the two European Principles of Precaution and Do No Significant Harm to the Environment – DNSH.
Significant CO2 Emissions
While European legislation to combat climate change has established a legal obligation to reduce CO2 emissions in the EU by at least 55% by 2030, the ongoing work on the Lyon-Turin project is already emitting huge quantities of CO2. As things stand, if the project were to go ahead, the inauguration would not take place in 2033 as announced, but several years later.
The savings in CO2 emissions linked to the transfer of freight from road to rail imagined by the project’s promoters could therefore begin well after the date imposed by the EU.
But if the CO2 emissions resulting from its construction, and the associated climate damage, are certain and amount, according to the promoters’ own estimates, to a total of 10 million tonnes of CO2 not certified by an independent authority, the carbon emission savings would be highly uncertain and definitely late, given the objective of zero net emissions by 2050.
In any case, if traffic were to increase as much as the promoters claim, emissions would continue to rise, but at a slightly slower rate.
Massive Water Loss
Climate change is causing a drought that is ravaging Europe, and the excavation of the base tunnel under the Alps is already contributing to this. The COWI 2006 report stated that “the tunnel would drain between 60 and 125 million m3 /year, which may be comparable to the water supply needed for a city of about 1 Million ́ inhabitants.”
Significant water losses and drying up have already been noted, all caused by the digging of the four reconnaissance galleries.
The European Parliament’s Responsibility and Listening to Citizens
Faced with this reality, the European Parliament, which approved and supported the project, must not silently support the perpetuation of this “environmental crime”, but, first and urgently, listen to the citizens who have been demonstrating for years that there are alternatives to this environmental crime, starting with the use of the existing line.
We call on the European Parliament to perform an act of democracy by organising hearings within the TRAN, ENVI and LIBE committees to assess the consistency of this European investment with the reality of ongoing climate change, EU environmental policies and the effective participation of citizens in EU decision-making. Scientists, experts, lawyers, environmental associations, grassroots movements, the European Commission, the Court of Auditors and all other interested parties should be invited to attend.