Activities in protected areas or areas of environmental interest

The Group’s activities, by their very nature, have a direct or indirect impact on the air, water resources, soil, ecosystems and the species that inhabit them. For this reason, Iren, aware that the preservation of the natural ecosystem is essential for long-term global sustainability, promotes the sustainable development of its activities.

The electricity generation activities in protected areas mainly concern hydroelectric plants, their impact on water resources and in terms of acoustic emissions. Water withdrawals and releases are managed in accordance with the concessions issued by the Competent Authorities and the legislation in force. Management Plans have been prepared for all the reservoirs managed (pursuant to Italian Legislative Decree 152/2006) with the relevant impact studies for those affecting SCI areas. The sources involved in water withdrawals at hydroelectric plants are the Ligurian Sea, the Po River, the Naviglio Grande canal, the Orco, Dora Riparia, Maira, Brugneto, Secchia, Bussento, Tanagro, Tusciano, Calore, Picentino, Terza rivers and the aquifer, through wells, for industrial use. Water discharges flow into the Ligurian sea, the basin of the Po, Ticino, Dora Riparia and Secchia rivers, lake Pian Telessio in Piedmont, the Chisola and Piantonetto streams, and the Naviglio Grande canal in Lombardy. All discharges, authorised and in compliance with the law, are made up of cooling water from the plants or water from the treatment processes of the water used in production sites. The measures to improve efficiency of hydroelectric plants, carried out by the Group, have positive repercussions on the entire system, as they reduce the need to produce energy from fossil sources and help to reduce atmospheric emissions. For all the redevelopment work carried out, the plant IAFR certification (certifying that it is powered by renewable sources) was obtained, which identifies the environmental benefits expected in terms of reductions in SO2, CO2, NOX, particulate and natural gas emissions. In order to minimise the acoustic impact on the surrounding environment, all systems are properly soundproofed.

The development of the electricity distribution network may directly involve or be in the immediate vicinity of various areas of the “Nature 2000” network, including: Collina di Superga (SCI), Meisino (SPA), Stupinigi (SCI), in the City of Turin, Lama del Badiotto (SPA) and Garzaia della Brarola (SPA), in the City of Vercelli. The electricity distribution network of Parma does not affect SCIs or SPAs in the “Natura 2000” network.

Waste management and environmental hygiene activities do not affect protected areas. Plants with greater capacity (waste-to-energy plants and landfills) are equipped with a green system, in harmony with the vegetation climax in which they are situated, with visual and environmental mitigation functions. The impacts related to the activities carried out are examined annually with the aim of verifying the result of the interventions carried out and of having all the elements necessary to confirm or modify the system implemented, in order to assess compliance with environmental regulations and authorisations and to define/update management systems improvement plans, including those related to environmental performance. The Parma Integrated Environmental Centre (PAI) operates in a largely industrial area and has a green system that, in addition to complying with the mitigation of particulates, also restores some habitats and acts as an ecological bridge between different biotopes and will lead to the creation of an ecosystem that could be an important resource for the overall recovery of the landscape and ecological value of the area. Every year, a monitoring campaign is carried out on the content of the particulates collected from the plants sowed, in order to estimate the environmental benefits in terms of the atmospheric particulate matter removed. The Piacenza waste-to-energy plant is located in an area that is not subject to any urban, landscape, hydrogeological, seismic or territorial constraint and in which there are no protections for parks, oases or other protected areas. The Turin waste-to-energy plant (TRM) obtained a positive environmental compatibility assessment via a process that included an Environmental Impact Study (EIA), the conclusions of which, in terms of vegetation, flora, fauna and ecosystems, demonstrated that the site is located within a highly developed area where no specific natural value has been detected regarding vegetation and wildlife. Despite being in the middle of an EIA phase, the introduction of the plant does not indicate the appearance of significant symptoms of stress on the ecosystems that already suffer from human impact; the emissions do not cause any harm to the local fauna present across a vast area, including the areas of particular naturalistic interest represented by the Stupinigi Natural Park and the system of protected areas of the Po River belt.

The management of the gas distribution service does not have any significant impact on biodiversity. Infrastructure development, maintenance and management activities rigorously comply with the regulatory framework relevant to environmental impact. Annual walking inspections are carried out within the natural areas where plants are present and at the end of the winter season to not damage the vegetation.

Regarding the integrated water service, all the water bodies receiving wastewater treated by the Group in the Emilia and Piedmont regions are located in the basin of the Po River, which falls within the area declared sensitive. Plants, therefore, are subject, depending on size, to the application of more restrictive limits for nitrogen and phosphorus. The wastewater treated by the treatment plants situated in the Liguria area is drained into the Ligurian sea from the coast (mainly the Gulf of Genoa, the Gulf of Tigullio and the Gulf of La Spezia). By nature, the activities conducted are aimed at maintaining optimal environmental conditions. The main objective of the wastewater treatment activity is to ensure that discharges are appropriately treated so that they are compatible with the natural habitats of the receiving bodies of water. In the same way, protecting the areas in which sources of water withdrawal are found is of the utmost importance for the management of the integrated water service. Screenings and environmental impact assessments are carried out within the timeframe required by regulations, both for water treatment plants and water withdrawals. The Genoese plants of the Brugneto Dam lie within Antola Regional Park (Genoa), while the Gorzente lakes lie within the Regional Park of Capanne di Marcarolo, partly within the Province of Alessandria. In the Province of Piacenza, the Group owns a lowland forest within the protected area of Conoide del Nure and Bosco di Fornace Vecchia (SCI). The wastewater treatment plants managed in the province of La Spezia are located near the Cinque Terre National Park/Cinque Terre Marine Protected Area, the Porto Venere Regional Nature Park, the Regional Nature Park of Montemarcello-Magra-Vara and the Regional Islands of Portovenere Marine Protection area.

No natural habitats were offset during the reporting period.