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Italy: Measures Adopted to Protect and Restore the Venetian Lagoon

(Sept. 29, 2020) Italy recently enacted measures to protect and restore the Venetian Lagoon in northern Italy, which is included in the UNESCO World Heritage List . The measures were included as part of a broader law, Decree-Law No. 104 of August 14, 2020 , aimed at revitalizing the national economy in response to the negative impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.  Decree-Law No. 104 entered into force on August 15, 2020.
The Authority for the Venetian Lagoon
The new legislation creates the Authority for the Venetian Lagoon  under the oversight of the Ministry of Infrastructure and Transportation, with the mission of approving a three-year program for the protection of the Venice Lagoon–in particular, for the implementation of a management and maintenance program called the Electromechanical Experimental Module (in Italian, MOSE). The role of the Authority is to coordinate and oversee all interventions in the lagoon area and to carry out technical activities for the maintenance of state-owned buildings and buildings of particular historical, artistic, architectural, and monumental interest, and others destined for public use within the lagoon area. The Authority will also exercise the functions of regulating navigation in the Venetian Lagoon and execute all works necessary to maintain the navigation channels, with the exclusion of maritime channels and port areas under the competence of the Maritime Authority and the Authority of the Port System . (D.L. No. 104 art. 95(1), (2)(a), (c) & (p).)
The Authority will also issue authorizations and concessions for clearing and planting within the lagoon perimeter; the removal of sand, mud, and other materials for any use from the lagoon; and the discharge of waste into the lagoon. (D.L. No. 104 art. 95(2)(q) & (r).)
Internal Organization, Staffing, and Budget of the Authority
The internal organs of the Authority include its President, a Management Committee, a Consultative Committee, and a Board of Auditors. The President of the Authority, who must be a person who has held high-level responsibilities in related areas and is broadly recognized as having extensive experience in those areas, is to be appointed through a multi-tiered vetting process involving both the national parliament and Venetian authorities. The President will head the Management Committee, whose members are not entitled to any emolument, compensation, or reimbursement of expenses. (D.L. No. 104 art. 95(4)–(6).)
The law allocates a staff of 100 employees for the Authority and appropriates €40 million (about US$46 million) for each of the years 2021 to 2034 for its operation. (D.L. No. 104 art. 95(10) & (17).)
Institutional Committee for the Safeguard of Venice and Its Lagoon
The law also creates an Institutional Committee for the Safeguard of Venice and Its Lagoon, to be composed of representatives from the highest levels of government both at the national and the Venetian levels. (D.L. No. 104 art. 95(22).)
Other Protective Measures
The law amends Decree of the President of the Republic No. 435 of November 8, 1991 , to provide that motorized and nonmotorized vessels providing local public transportation exclusively within the protected waters of the Venice Lagoon may only use gas fuel at ambient temperature under pressure in a manner that complies with regulations to be issued by a decree of the Ministry of Infrastructure and Transportation. (D.L. No. 104 art. 95(27)(2).)
Finally, the legislation includes measures to protect the environment and public safety, and to guarantee the uniqueness and excellence of the cultural, landscape, and environmental heritage of Italian sites included in the UNESCO list. These measures include a prohibition on issuing any authorizations for the construction or implementation of new storage installations for liquified petroleum gas on the listed sites. (D.L. No. 104 art. 95(24).)

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