In 2002, Terna started something completely new in infrastructure construction in Italy. In the practice that had been followed until then, discussion with local communities began only once the authorisation process had been initiated, when the planning of the infrastructure was already at the execution level. Environmental concerns were taken into consideration at that stage, through the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA). This approach led to strong opposition by the local institutions and population involved, with the result that often the original project had to be modified and was thus delayed.

Terna’s new approach was to start its discussion with local communities during the strategic planning stage of the new lines and stations included in its Development Plan. The method adopted included prior consultation with institutions at different levels – regions, provinces, municipalities – based on agreement on the criteria for characterising the area concerned and aimed at identifying the best location for the new installations. The solutions agreed on with local governments are ratified through specific agreements signed by Terna and the aforesaid governments. In short, Terna’s approach entailed the voluntary development of a method of relating to local stakeholders based on the Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA). The SEA was then the subject matter of EU Directive no. 2001/42/EC, which was to be adopted by Italian law only many years later – by Legislative Decree no. 152/2006 – and with much less complex implications with regard to relations with local institutions.

Over the years, the model inspired by the SEA has undergone important changes resulting from the well-organised and fruitful cooperation among the parties. Today the model comprises different levels of discussion, analysis, and assessment:

  • at the strategic level, once the electric needs for developing the transmission grid have been identified, possible alternative responses to the problems identified are set out;
  • at the structural level, after the strategic alternative for the work to be constructed has been established, it is possible to identify corridors – portions of land up to several kilometres wide – within the alternatives that are suitable for the planned works;
  • at the execution level, within the corridor chosen the possible alternative locations for the line are identified as the feasibility strip for the route: portions of land up to several hundred metres wide inside of which the route can be developed.

SEA agreements signed in 2009

In 2009, Terna entered into three protocols of understanding – with Valle d’Aosta, Liguria, and Lazio.

Regions that have signed protocols of understanding