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Victory for landscape protection

(c) Photomontage: https:\\unsersattelberg.wordpress.com, Photo: Claude Le Pennec

The controversial application to build a wind farm on the Sattelberg near the Brenner Pass was rejected in a final appeal heard by the Italian Council of State in Rome.

This represents a major victory for the environmental protection associations and the Alpine clubs on both sides of the Brenner, who took the matter to court. In its judgement, the Council of State agreed with the concerns formulated on several occasions by CIPRA South Tyrol as the umbrella association for the protection of nature and the environment, the Südtiroler Alpenverein, the Club Alpino Italiano, the Österreichischer Alpenverein and the Club Arc Alpin as the umbrella association for mountaineering clubs in the Alps and accepted the argument that the construction and operation of nineteen wind turbines at an altitude of 2,500 metres above sea level in the midst of the Alpine landscape and on a bird migration route of European significance cannot be justified in terms of the energy transition. This gratifying outcome is the result of close cooperation between the Alpine clubs and environmental associations; together they have succeeded in preserving a piece of our unique landscape.

In its judgement, the Council of State in particular criticised the Regional Government of South Tyrol for ignoring the negative opinion formulated by the Office of Environmental Impact Assessments and for taking too little account of the views submitted by public and private organisations and authorities in Italy and Austria. The judgment also underlines the fact that the Italian constitution recognises the landscape as an environmental asset worthy of protection.

This is a groundbreaking judgement for European environmental law in that the Council of State recognises the right of the Austrian Alpine Club to call on an Italian court in the case of an environmental issue with cross-border implications. The club's status as a party to the proceedings also applies to other cross-border projects that have a major impact on the environment. The NGOs hope that this judgment in final appeal proceedings means that the Brenner wind farm project is now a thing of the past.

www.cipra.org/de/CIPRA/cipra-suedtirol (de)

Source: Annual Report 2014, CIPRA International, http://www.cipra.org/annual-reports