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UPDATE 1-Italian court gives green light to contested TAP pipeline
March 27, 2017 / 5:55 PM / 9 months ago

UPDATE 1-Italian court gives green light to contested TAP pipeline

(Adds explanation on ruling, background)

MILAN, March 27 (Reuters) - A top Italian court on Monday gave the green light to build a strategic pipeline bringing central Asian gas into Europe, rejecting appeals by local authorities in southern Italy who wanted to move the landfall.

The Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP), the end piece of the $40 billion Southern Gas Corridor, is slated to bring 10 billion cubic metres of gas from Azerbaijan into the small Italian seaside town of San Foca in Puglia by 2020.

But opposition from the local town council and Puglia regional authority had raised jitters that the project, an EU priority, could face delays.

Successive Italian governments have introduced measures to try and streamline permitting processes for infrastructure projects that have scared some investors away.

In 2012, Britain’s BG Group scrapped an LNG terminal it had already spent 250 million euros on, blaming red tape.

In its ruling on Monday, the top administrative court said TAP’s environmental impact permit, awarded in 2014, had met all the conditions needed.

The court also said the local authorities had been properly involved in the permitting process with the government despite the Puglia regional government’s claim it had not done so.

Puglia Governor Michele Emiliano, who is challenging former Prime Minister Matteo Renzi for the leadership of the ruling Democratic Party (PD), has been lobbying Rome to shift the pipeline’s landing point. (Reporting by Stephen Jewkes, editing by Isla Binnie and Crispian Balmer)

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