The project involved the construction of a biomethane and compost production plant for anaerobic digestion of urban organic waste (FORSU). The Municipality of Melfi called a participatory public conference and then decided.
Problems and purpose
The company Biomethane Plus SrL has submitted its own project to the environmental impact assessment authorization process (VIA and AIA). It consists of a biomethane and compost production plant from anaerobic fermentation of the organic wet fraction of urban waste, to be located in the industrial area of San Nicola di Melfi (Potenza), with a production size of 155,000 t / a of organic fraction and 23,800 t / a of vegetable waste (pruning, mowing).
The mayor of Melfi, Livio Valvano, in parallel with the VIA procedure (valid throughout the national territory), has called a Participatory Public Conference < / strong>; a tool that was introduced in the Municipality of Melfi by the Municipal Council & nbsp; with resolution no.33 of June 15, 2017. & nbsp;
History and background
The Municipality of Melfi is located in the north of Basilicata on the border with Puglia and Campania, on the north-eastern slopes of Mount Vulture. Currently there are 17,750 inhabitants. The political tradition was from the postwar period to 1978 always dominated by the Christian Democrats, after which until 1993, always socialist (PSI) and then it was contested alternating between center-left and center-right. Since 2011, then reconfirmed in 2016, Livio Valvano (PSI) is mayor at the helm of a center-left coalition (PD, SEL and civic lists). & Nbsp;
The territory of Melfi has never had a strong depopulation. In the twenty years following the post-war period it had a strong increase (18,200 inhabitants in 1961), after which it decreased, it was a territory of emigration, until the nineties, a period in which new large FIAT and Barilla industrial plants were built. and their induced. The proposed biogas plant should have been located right near the Barilla plant, alongside the consortium purifier.
Organizational, support and financing entities
Basilicata Region < / strong> oversees the administrative procedure of authorization and environmental assessment (EIA and AIA).
Municipality of Melfi is required to express an opinion in the Service Conferences on projects or measures that could have environmental repercussions in its own territory. To do this, the council is required to hold a participatory public conference (Del. Cons. N.33 of 15/6/17) which is chaired and moderated by the mayor himself, Livio Valvano. < / p>
Biomethane Plus SrL is a joint stock company based in Melfi. It is represented by Eng. Sacco and by Eng. Scarola.
Selection and recruitment of participants
Participatory public conference was organized on 14/11/2018 from 10:40 am to 1:20 pm at the Municipo or other municipal premises. The conference was convened with a public notice disclosed on 24/10, through posters posted in the city, press releases of the Municipality, on the network. A full report is drawn up of the conference which is then published on the municipality's website. "Those who declare themselves interested parties participate in the Participatory Services Conference and may intervene in matters of a cognitive, technical and scientific nature directly relating to the planned work or intervention and its effects on the environment. At the outcome of the Conference, the Municipal Administration in the authorization phase also in the context of the procedures for issuing opinions in the provincial or regional context will have to take into account the proposals and opinions acquired in the context of the participatory procedure ". The conference was attended by & nbsp; with their own speeches:
- mayor of Melfi, Livio Valvano;
- proponents ing. Sacco and ing. Scarola (Biomethane Plus SrL);
- director Angela Bisogno (M5S);
- Antonio Catalani, director of Agroalimentare Sud SpA and delegated representative for Candeal Commercio, Cargil, Preziosi Food, Barilla SpA;
- Danilo Carbone and Nicola Abiuso, representatives of the Right to Health Committee;
- regional councilor Gianni Leggieri (M5S);
- prof. Onofrio Laricchiuta, technical consultant of the Municipality of Melfi; & nbsp;
- Antonio Cignarale, citizen
- mayor of Montemilone, D'Amelio.
Probably other people were present, however, the data is not reported. The meeting was streamed on Facebook from the Municipality page.
Methods and tools used
Participatory public conference it is a public consultation meeting, moderated by the mayor, recorded and streamed via Facebook .
What happened: process, interaction and participation
The Participatory public conference , which was presented by the mayor in its procedures, after which he traces the procedure and gives the floor to Eng. Sacco of the company Biomethane Plus Srl which re-explained the past process and the company's strategy and the reason for the proposal. & Nbsp;
Following the first presentation of the EIA application of 10/12/2015 , the first services conference was held only on 19/12/2017, also following an appeal to the TAR for the silence held up to that date . The opinions were all negative because the quantities were considered exorbitant compared to the zonal needs and the risk of odor emissions in the presence of agri-food industries. Although there were no regulations prescribing a size limit of the biogas plant nor the distance of origin (which is potentially free throughout Italy) and compliance with the emissions of what is established in the regional waste management plan, the company Biomethane has reduced the plant to 30,000 t / y and made the whole project compatible with the best technological standards on the market. Says Eng. Sacco who did it because they firmly believe in the project and because they are people who live in Melfi and are keen not to do "botched" things . It also argues on the economic benefits for the community, the economic and environmental benefits due to a nearby recycling site (currently the organic fractions are sent to Northern Italy), the recovery of biogas for transport and the production of electricity, heat and fertilizer packaged in bags.
Councilor Bisogno points out that the Conference should have been organized in the afternoon or evening to allow working citizens to be able to attend. It also goes back to the size of the plant that goes beyond regional needs and is therefore opposed to supporting projects that import waste from neighboring territories. He therefore asks for a series of prescriptions that could lead to his favorable opinion (the repetition of the public conference, the maximum workable by the plant at 30,000 t / y, the possibility of suspending the plant's activities without notice as soon as emissions of odors or leaks of polluting liquids). & nbsp;
Antonio Catalani (Director of Agroalimentare Sud) is against the issue of odor risk. He also adds that the industrial area of Melfi is in a bad state of road maintenance and that the agri-food companies are at risk of blocking because they cannot find a way to dispose of the sewage sludge from the food industry, which at the moment is not considered waste and can no longer be disposed of in special biogas plants, one of which similar to the one proposed already exists in the area.
The representatives of the committees and the regional councilor of the 5 Star Movement intervene, bringing opposing requests and often referring to past pollution problems that the territory has already had to endure. The professor. Laricchiuta, chemist from the University of Bari, consultant to the Municipality, although he hopes to treat the organic fraction, like the others, is not convinced of the anti-odor measures of the plant and concludes that "fortunately" the region with its waste plan excluded the establishment of such plants near sensitive sites such as those of the agri-food industry . & nbsp;
In particular, referring to the report by prof. Laricchiuta, the Council of the Municipality of Melfi, on 1/8/19, resolves an "unfavorable" opinion (Link 1).
Influence, results and effects
The the outcome of the conference was fully acknowledged by the Board on 1/8/2019 , which found itself with all the non-proposing actors, suspicious or averse to the project. Thus was the last outcome of the Regional Services Conference. & Nbsp;
Analysis and lessons learned
Although the participatory public conference is a participatory attempt, it cannot be said to be completely balanced and not he devoted a sufficiently long time to a fairly complex technical debate. The participatory public conference is certainly something more than the conference of services as it is procedurally conceived; it is an honest and sparing consultation, which also stimulates discussion and could lead to dialogue if it had been followed up as requested by the councilor and granted by the mayor, but this did not happen and the unanimous technical and actor opinion prevailed not favorable, despite the fact that there were no actual rules - if anything interpreted - that legitimized it completely. For example, it was possible to open a creative discussion in the ways adopted by Active Listening for the composting sites in Rome.
 Municipality of Melfi, Participatory public conference, 14/11/2018, p. 1-2, http://www.comune.melfi.pz.it /index.php?page=3103 (rel. 11/11/19).
 Ib., p. 13.
 Ib., P. 7.
 Ib., P. 10.
 Ib., P. 30.
 Municipality of Melfi, Council Resolution n. 116 of 1/8/2019, http://www.comune.melfi.pz.it/upload_file/2/2944/Delibera%20di%20G.%20M.%20n.%20116%20del%20201902082019.pdf (ril. 11/11/19).
Municipality of Melfi, Environmental criticalities, Biomethane Plus project, http://www.comune.melfi.pz.it/index.php?page=2944 ( rel. 11/11/19).