The Trans Adriatic Pipeline - TAP project is an infrastructure project for the construction of a pipeline that will transport natural gas coming from the fields of Shah Deniz II in Azerbaijan to the Italian coast for distribution in Europe. The pipeline is part of the larger project called the Southern Gas Corridor which includes the Trans Anatolian Pipeline (TANAP) and the Trans Caspian Gas Pipeline.
The pipeline will have an initial capacity of 10 billion cubic meters of natural gas per year, but may be increased up to 20 billion cubic meters.
The project is considered of strategic importance by the European Commission and the Italian government, and supposedly aims at diversification of energy supplies. Yet it is vehemently opposed by many communities and local governments along the route. To give voice to the concerns about the pipeline the No TAP Committee was established, and with the support of local governments, continues to express concerns and opposition to the project.
Dissent against the pipeline stems from concerns about the impacts that such work can have on the environment and the local economy. There is also a higher level dissent based on the strategic role of the pipeline and on the funding mechanisms that could turn in costs for all citizens.
San Foca, the landfall location on the Italian coast, is a seaside locality based on tourism and fishing, in which nature and biodiversity are the engine of community life and local economy.
Environmental concerns are based on the presence, in the waters affected by the project, of coral reefs, Posidoniae seagrass, caves and in general a rich biodiversity that would be compromised. Also, that area is the destination for nesting by Caretta Caretta turtles. In addition, the pipeline, as in the project, will land near the St. Basil cliffs which are fragile cliffs that may be damaged by the maneuvers of drilling and installation of the pipeline. Finally, the connecting portion between the landing terminal and the PRT will cross an area with over 1900 olive trees to be removed, and it will pass in proximity (less than 100m) to houses.
There are also many concerns on the economic side for possible losses in the tourism and fisheries sectors as a result of the disruptions that may be brought by the construction of the pipeline.
Finally, health concerns have also been raised. The President of the Lecce Section of LILT (Italian League Against Cancer), Dr. Serravezza, expressed his concerns about the lack of a study on the health impact of the project in the TAP project documents . Some potential health aspects highlighted concern the fumes produced by depressurization of the central terminal of receipt, that would worsen the conditions of air pollution in Salento, already contaminated by residues from Taranto and Brindisi because of the winds that carry them in that area.
The project proposed by TAP has encountered numerous obstacles in its path.
The Committee has organized demonstrations, reports and briefings to the population. In 2011 together with the Municipality of Melendugno they submitted objections to the EIA to the Ministry of Environment.
The Chamber of Commerce of Bari has also been opposed to the project since 2010. This opinion was confirmed by the EIA Commission of Puglia Region in 2012 and the city council of Melendugno proposed a resolution to deny any permissions to the TAP company.
More recently, a new submission to the EIA Commission in the Puglia Region (January 2014) has again failed and the project in September 2014 received a final rejection by the Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Activities.
Despite these obstacles and the many manifestations of dissent from the NO Tap Committee and from the population, the Ministry of Environment approved by Ministerial Decree, on September 11th 2014, the EIA for the TAP project.
To date, the Committee intends to appeal to the Administrative Court to challenge the EIA decree approved in September 2014.