I am Giuseppe Schermi, DiEM25 city councilor and coordinator of the DiEM25 local group in my home town Augusta, Eastern Sicily. And unlike nearly all the people I know, this month I cannot go on holiday. With good reason: I live next to one of the largest and most polluted oil refinery harbours of the Mediterranean, Syracuse. And August is typically the month when industrial lobbies get their draft legislation passed.
And this is exactly what happened shortly ago: following the example of the Special Economic Zones in Poland, on August 9 the Sicilian government passed its proposal for their Z.E.S. (Zone Economiche Speciali, engl. Special Economic Zones), aimed at improving the logistics and commercial exchange with EU member states. Z.E.S. are administrative areas where economic activity can be conducted on preferential terms which first of all means: simplified license authorisations and tax exemptions.
Cheered by both the political establishment and the populists as a much needed boost for the economic development of the industrial site, the designated areas in the Syracuse region are actually a further threat to our fragile environment. Approximately 500 out of a total of 700 hectares lie either on farming land such as wetlands and citrus groves, or on oil-contaminated sites that need to be cleaned off first, including an on-shore oil deposit in the urban area of Syracuse.
DSC Augusta 1 made the case and their members’ concerns public and sent out a press statement. And we got good local coverage. Read the articles at Error404online, La Gazzetta Augustana and Augusta News.
As the designated areas are subject to final approval by the national government, I urge everyone to appeal against such a draft taken without any local consultation. Based on our Green New Deal for Europe, my proposal is to link the benefits of the Z.E.S to the long awaited clean off of any contaminated industrial site first, and then to reconvert all industrial activities from fossils to renewable energies.
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