Someone asked us this question and we have to admit it gave us pause. Anyone who takes an interest in the soil knows how important it is for life and for human survival. This is not the case for those whose daily concern has to be their own survival. People can see and feel water, vegetation, the air. The soil is to all intents and purposes invisible because it is either physically distant or covered in infrastructure.
Let’s start with an unpleasant fact: Italy is the European leader in soil consumption. Almost 24% of concreted over soil in Europe is in Italy. This unfortunate record raises some urgent questions: in Italy we are no longer capable of producing the food we need. Moreover, due to the fact that it has been rendered impermeable, the soil is no longer capable of protecting us by absorbing water. The regular floods of recent years have had very high numbers of victims. In Liguria, landslips, landslides and floods have led to a number of deaths comparable to the disaster of 14th August when a motorway bridge in Genoa collapsed. We only worry about the situation of Italian soils when there is a disaster, a drought or a flood. Afterwards silence descends again, leaving responsibility for action to the lowest level of public authority, the municipalities. What is needed, instead, is a national plan, with adequate expertise and finance. And finally, despite all this, for the time being there are no specific laws in Italy setting limits and conditions that have to be obeyed.
The Forum’s draft law (which is now an official bill in front of both the Senate and the Chamber) fills this void. It shows how the soil can be safeguarded by starting from the principle that fertile land should no longer be used for building or infrastructure. It sets out the ways in which construction companies can continue to be active in areas that have already been built on and in expanding the regeneration of existing buildings. It gives responsibility to the public authorities, especially the municipalities, giving them the power and the tools to allow them to operate in the interest of soil protection for present and future generations. This is all in line with the principles of the Italian Constitution which allows for the social function of property.