Italy: Recent Developments In Italian Environmental Law

Last Updated: 8 March 1995

Paolo Roncelli of Gianni, Origoni & Partners, Milan

Italian environmental law has been recently characterised by the frequent use of the urgency legislation tool of the law decree, i.e., a decree which is enacted by the government, is immediately binding and must be converted into law by the two Chambers of the Parliament within 60 days from its coming into force. Lack of the conversion of the law decree into law usually triggers the re-enactment of the law decree, often with amendments. As this process may be repeated more then once, many rules are practically modified every 60 days.

Waste Water Discharges
The fundamental text on this subject is the Law No. 319 of May 10, 1976, known as the 'Merli Law'. The latest version of the long string of law decrees that have modified the Merli Law in the recent past is Law Decree No. 9 of January 16, 1995. Among the amendments introduced by this law decree are dispositions which: (i) authorise regional authorities to regulate discharges, however subject to the limits set forth in the Merli Law; (ii) introduce different penalties for violations of the discharge limits set forth by the regional authorities, in particular increasing the pecuniary penalties to a maximum of 250,000, 000 Lit; and (iii) confirm the possibility for owners of waste water discharges to file an authorisation application without being prosecuted for their previous violations by paying a cash settlement.

Industrial Risks
Presidential Decree No. 175 of May 17 1988 contains a regulation of the procedure by which to evaluate safety reports and plant inspections. Most recently, Law Decree No. 2 of January 7 1995, introduces amendments directed towards a greater protection of the risks involved in industrial activities. These include extending sanctions provided in Article 21 of Presidential Decree No. 175 to manufacturers who omit to make the required notification or statement of their participation in high-risk activities (listed in Ministerial Decree of May 20, 1991) within the deadline of October 8 1994.

Secondary Raw Materials
Law Decree No. 3 of January 7 1995, reintroduced a regulation already laid down by Law Decree No. 619 of November 7 1994. Such regulation is aimed towards a more rational use of leftovers from production or consumption cycles, requiring whoever intends to collect, transport, stock, treat or recycle such leftovers to notify a governmental agency ('Comitato nazionale d ell'Albo nazionale delle imprese esercenti servizi di smaltimento dei rifiuti') and the competent Region. Included among the dispositions of the decree are rules on the treatment, storage or use of secondary raw materials and provisions concerning the temporary storage of hazardous waste.

Water Resources
Law No. 36 of January 5 1994, known as the 'Galli Law', introduces dispositions aimed towards a more strategic use of water resources. The 'Galli Law' contains objectives and programs which require subsequent implementation by government regulations and decrees, and dispositions which are immediately binding. The principles contained in the law they can be invoked by interested parties in environmental impact assessments, environmental damage assessments, and they lay down standards based on which to define water pollution.

National Agency For The Protection Of The Environment (ANPA)
The agency was introduced with Law No. 61 of January 21 1994. The agency's functions include providing the Italian government with all relevant technical and scientific data regarding the environment and co-ordinating the scientific and technical policies of the local regional and provincial agencies. The agency is not yet operative.

New Environmental Declaration Forms
Law No. 70 of January 25 1994, introduced a new and simplified notification procedure with regard to most of the obligatory environmental, sanitary and public safety fulfilment which businesses are presently subject to. A new declaration form substitutes all the declarations, reports or notifications which are to be filed pursuant to the laws regarding wastes, air emissions, water discharges, and industrial risks. The form is to be filed annually at the local Chamber of Commerce which will then proceed to form a data bank and to transfer the collected information to the interested departments within the Public Administration. The law will become operative when decrees are issued to implement its rules and to determine the details to be included in the declaration form. Environmental Impact Assessment Law No. 109 of February 11 1994 introduced a complete and organic regulation of contracting work in the public sector. In terms of an environmental impact assessment, the law foresees that the engineering companies which design the projects include in their final design an environmental impact assessment and that the 'services committee', a governmental body, may render its opinion only after the projects have been evaluated in an environmental impact assessment.

Ministerial Decree of September 9, 1994, enacted the necessary rules and regulations to intervene for the clean-up and removal of asbestos, as foreseen in Law No. 527 of October 21 1992 on the discontinuance of asbestos use.

For further information please contact Enzo Schiavello on +392 76 00 97 56.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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