HomeIdeaLand robbery, 'agri-solar parks' and wind turbines

Land robbery, 'agri-solar parks' and wind turbines

The robbery of land from farmers and local communities - still carried out by Big Ag in Central and South America, Africa and South-East Asia, to create monocultures of oil palm and soy - is also widespread in Europe and Italy, in the name of the business of 'agricultural parks' and wind turbines. #CleanSpades.

1) Finance versus agriculture, introduction

Agricultural production and agri-food, in the European Union, is still entrusted to 9,3 million agricultural companies, 94,8% of which are family and peasant-sized (Eurostat, 2020). 5,4 million companies have already been closed and/or sold to agro-industrial giants in the period 2005-2020, due to the spread of unfair commercial practices that force small farmers to sell below cost and the inability to earn a decent income.

International finance – as has already been illustrated (1) – has assumed dominance both over the means of agricultural production (starting from agrochemicals, fertilizers, seeds) – and over the global commodity market (cereals, soya and oilseeds, legumes). Financial oligarchies can therefore speculate on both the costs and revenues of agricultural production. And thus accelerate the crisis of farmers, to take possession of land suitable for their production model (large estates and monocultures with GMOs resistant to herbicides).

2) Land robbery for 'agrivoltaic parks' and wind turbines

Expropriation and occupation urgent measures of agricultural areas and natural landscapes - to carry out (not only public but above all) private investments attributable to 'strategic' energy transition projects - represent the vanguard of land robbery in 'democratic' countries.

Land is stolen to their owners to achieve the objectives of the 'Green Deal' as set out by Italy in the PNRR (National Recovery and Resilience Plan) and the PNIEC (National Integrated Plan for Energy and Climate 2030. See notes 2,3, XNUMX).

The works, systems and infrastructures necessary to implement energy transition projects, even if built by private individuals:

– take on the legal nature of a public work through a 'declaration of public utility'

– constitute a prerequisite for expropriation procedures, through a declaration of 'non-deferrability and urgency' (4)

– make use of simplifications in terms of EIA (environmental impact assessment) and authorisations

– are not subject to the location constraints previously envisaged by the Environmental Code (5)

– they are classified as 'strategic works' also for the purposes of the Environmental Code. (6)

3) Land consumption for 'strategic works'

The 'strategic works' – that is to say, plants that produce photovoltaic, wind, waste and any other non-fossil energy – can therefore be built, even through expropriation, on the most significant areas of our territory. Instead of only on uncultivated or degraded areas (e.g. abandoned industrial areas and in any case already waterproofed), as required by the Environmental Code before the brutal reform. (6)

The consumption of virgin soil – agricultural and forestry, natural parks and characteristic landscapes included – has therefore been legitimized in the name of the 'energy transition'. In defiance of the 'ecological transition' proclaimed in vain in the 'Green Deal' itself, as well as the natural, cultural and landscape heritage. (7) Without any consideration, among other things, of the fundamental role of soil, plants and trees in:

– absorption and storage of carbon dioxide, to combat the climate emergency that afflicts us with extreme phenomena that primarily damage agriculture (i.e. droughts, torrential rains, hailstorms and frosts)

– prevention of hydrogeological instability, thanks to responsible agricultural practices and care of rural landscapes

– reduction of the loss of biodiversity, which in turn is essential for productivity in agriculture and ecosystem functions. (8)

4) Coldiretti against Italian farmers

Vincent Gesmundo – the eternal 'boss of bosses' of Coldiretti – claims that 'the six projects contained in the Recovery Plan are essentially signed at the bottom by Coldiretti. (…) Because when Coldiretti does Coldiretti there's none for anyone!'. (9) It's just a shame that 'when Coldiretti does Coldiretti', Italian farmers suffer the worst damage, as has been repeatedly demonstrated in the 'Vanghe Pulite' investigation and is reconfirmed in the case in question.

The PNRR (National recovery and resilience plan), in implementation of the 'Recovery Plan' (later renamed 'Next Generation EU'), has in fact:

– distorted the Environmental Code precisely to legitimize the robbery of land in the name of the 'energy transition' and 'public utility', as seen in the previous paragraphs. So that, even if farmers do not want to sell or rent their land, the land can be expropriated and entrusted to energy giants

– diverted the resources intended for farmers and breeders – in the M2C1 measure, 'sustainable agriculture', which would have allowed them to receive direct aid for interventions in favor of the ecological transition, crop diversification, animal welfare – to the exclusive advantage of the financial partners and industrialists of Coldiretti.

AB Energy, Enel, ENI, GE Holding, MyEnergy, Snam and Terna, combination, are the members of the Italian supply chain created by Coldiretti and chaired by the MEP Paolo De Castro. And the first priority in the PNRR's Coldiretti funding in agriculture - to which €1,5 out of the initial 2,8 billion (54%) was dedicated - concerns precisely 'agri-solar parks'. The measure was then re-financed, on 8 December 2024, with a further 850 million euros.

5) Social and economic impact

The social impact of the measures in question is disastrous, since with them a model of territorial economy with high employment and income distribution is sacrificed which is based not only on quality agriculture but also on tourism, culture and their related activities.

The industrial model 'green' energy, on the other hand, minimizes the workforce and irreparably disfigures landscapes. With the further mockery of mainly using materials manufactured in non-EU countries and concentrating wealth on the 'masters of the world'. (10)

The havoc it is now unleashing itself in every region of the Bel Paese, from the Treviso area to the Vercellese and Cuneo areas, Emilia-Romagna and the Marche, Puglia and Sicily, with the most serious assault of all time on Sardinia (11-15). And it's just the beginning, as the president of JP Morgan announced last year. (10)

6) Democratic revolution

It's time to rebel to this phenomenon, in clear contrast with the fundamental human rights proclaimed by the UN (right to food and its means of production, private property and freedom of enterprise), as well as the strategic objectives of food sovereignty, 'food security' and biodiversity.

EU and Italian regulations described above - tailor-made for international finance, with the support of the large agricultural confederations (Coldiretti, Copa-Cogeca, Farm Europe) and the politicians at their service - must be reformed as soon as possible, to put a definitive end to this havoc.

Stop land consumption is one of the priorities of the writer, with the methods mentioned in point 2-D of program in view of the European elections of 6-9 June 2024. Solar panels only on surfaces already covered by asphalt and concrete, wind and photovoltaic systems off our coasts, without disturbing seascapes. (16)

#PeaceLandDignity

Dario Dongo

Footnotes

(1) Dario Dongo. The tentacles of finance on food sovereignty and our food. GIFT (Great Italian Food Trade).

(2) Reg. (EU) No 2018/1999 of the European Parliament and of the Council on the Governance of the Energy Union and Climate Action https://tinyurl.com/bdedsjn8

(3) Law 108/2021 converting Legislative Decree 77/2021 (so-called 'simplifications decree bis'), containing 'Governance of the national recovery and resilience plan and first measures to strengthen administrative structures and accelerate and streamline procedures' https://tinyurl.com/47z33nhe

(4) Environmental Code, Presidential Decree 327/01 and subsequent amendments. See articles 12-14 ('declaration of public utility') and 22-bis ('declaration of public utility')

(5) Law 108/2021, art. 18.1.a.2, repeals paragraph 2-ter of the art. 7-bis of the consolidated text of the Environmental Code where the criteria for identifying the areas unsuitable for the implementation of the PNRR and PNIEC interventions were defined

(6) Law 108/21, in article 18.1.b, replaces the list of strategic works already provided for in the Environmental Code (Annex I) with those established in its new Annex I-bis provided for by Legislative Decree 77/2021

(7) Dario Dongo. European Green Deal, the new strategy in the EU. Egalité. 13.12.19

(8) Dario Dongo, Gabriele Sapienza. Italy, land consumption and ecosystem services. ISPRA report. GIFT (Great Italian Food Trade).

(9) Dario Dongo. National action plan for pesticides, sustainable agriculture and PNRR. #Clean shovels. GIFT (Great Italian Food Trade).

(10) Arianna Graziato. Expropriation of private land: what is true in JP Morgan's proposal. Byoblu. 11.4.23 https://tinyurl.com/bda3ux99

(11) Matteo Marcon. Treviso brand, the green turning point. Solar panels on 166 hectares of fields. The Tribuna of Treviso. 1.4.24 https://tinyurl.com/hpw242wv

(12) The struggle of the farmer from Carisio in Fuori dal Coro. First Vercelli. 8.1.24 https://tinyurl.com/yzdu8zf5

(13) Expropriation for photovoltaics: “We didn't know”. Il Resto del Carlino. 28.2.24 https://tinyurl.com/fuvrph5d

(14) Land expropriated without the farmers' consent: "To install wind turbines they took everything away from us." Foggia Today. 9.2.24 https://tinyurl.com/mwxk4f4a

(15) Solar assault, public expropriations & private affairs. Sardinian Union. 6.12.23 https://tinyurl.com/425mrxdz

(16) Italy's first floating wind farm obtains authorisation. Rinnovabili.it 22.3.24 https://www.rinnovabili.it/energia/eolico/primo-parco-eolico-galleggiante-d-italia-ottiene-autorizzazione/

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Dario Dongo, lawyer and journalist, PhD in international food law, founder of WIISE (FARE - GIFT - Food Times) and Égalité.

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