Inland navigation, the most sustainable transport mode reducing pollution, finally got its incentives
The Italian Government and Parliament accepted AIDNI’s proposal, supported by UNII and Propeller Club of Mantua, concerning a regulation for the development of waterway freight transport included in the Budget Law 2019
The Italian Government and Parliament finally granted the incentives provided for as specific funds by the Budget Law 2019 also to the so called “internal motorways of the sea” (i.e. river/maritime routes).
This is good news for operational and institutional stakeholders since the unfair competition suffered by waterways compared to other transport modes will finally be over, thus promoting river freight transport in order to ensure better levels of sustainable transport for environmental quality.
In fact, in the past two decades the Italian Government’s policies had discouraged inland navigation, while supporting road transport with hundreds of million euro of investments per year, thus favouring the transport mode that has the most negative impact on the environment, especially in the Po Valley.
“In Italy, over 85% of freights are still transported by truck, while the Community target provides for at least 30% of freights to be transported by alternative modes”, Propeller Club Port of Mantua Secretary General, as well as director of the Mantua Province with specific mandate, Giancarlo Leoni observed. As it is well known, Mantua boasts Valdaro, the major Italian inland trade port.
“The Government recently financed also railway transport with over 60 million euro, thus giving rise to more unfair competition compared to river transport. Inland navigation associations asked the government to provide several million euros, which are a “paltry” amount compared to the support granted also to maritime transport.
In accordance with the provisions of Article 1, paragraphs 234 and 235 of the Law n. 145 of 30 December 2018, the approved financial act introduced significant novelties to support inland navigation and sustainable transport, as river-maritime freight transport associations such as UNII (Italian Inland Navigation Union), headed by Professor Sergio Vazzoler, AIDNI (Italian Inland Navigation Law Association), headed by Lawyer Massimiliano Grimaldi, and the International Propeller Club of Mantua, headed by president Eng. Claudio Lupi (Paganella Trasporti) and Arch. Leoni, had long been asking.
“During the meeting organized by MP Deborah Bergamini in September 2018, Deputy Minister of Transports Edoardo Rixi undertook to support waterway freight transport also to prevent heavy loads from being transported by road, thus protecting bridges”.
On said occasion, the executives of the Lombardy and Friuli Regions, as well as of the Provinces of Cremona and Mantua, focused on the most urgent issues to be solved in order to exploit this important transport mode, implying significant advantages in terms of safety and sustainable mobility.
“Freight and passengers transport along the Northern Italy waterway system, including core ports within the TEN-T network of Cremona and Mantua, can no longer be damaged by excessive administrative bureaucracy and by the lack of equalizing measures compared to other transport modes. Likewise, the Tuscan and Lazio waterway system should be adequately exploited, also in light of their connection with the sea”, AIDNI president Lawyer Massimiliano Grimaldi explained.
“The serious and increasingly frequent fatal events occurred in the past years due to the poor state of road infrastructures should determine an acceleration of the implementation of the Italian strategic ports and logistics plan with regards to the exploitation of inland waterway transport”, the Genoese lawyer concluded, rejoicing about Deputy Minister Rixi’s concern about this issue.
Last year inland waterways were included in the maritime port law.
In fact, the Decree-Law n. 232/2017 – amending the maritime port reform – published on the Italian Official Gazette of February the 9th 2018 – added waterway transport to the modes to be promoted within the maritime ports development policies in connection with other transport networks.
This important amendment, requiring to take into consideration also inland waterway transport within the strategic plan related to large infrastructure investments, was promoted by AIDNI, supported by MP and member of the IX Transport Committee of the Chamber Diego Crivellari, who implemented the law n. 84/94 ratifying the significance of the river-sea transport mode.
Therefore, the Budged Law 2019 introduced the amendment within the regulations supporting “motorways of the sea”, applying them also to inland waterways. “Moreover, said provision introduces also the amendment to the Presidential Decree n. 205, adding inland waterways to the motorways of the sea. In fact, said significant regulatory amendments, both for logistics planning and to rebalance competition between inland waterways, provided for several small funds in order to support start-ups and innovation within the logistics chain”, stakeholders explained.
The investments granted to this sector amount to €2,000,000 for 2019 and 2020 respectively, while from 2021 they will allocate and annual 5 million fund.
“These regulatory amendments and financial support to this sustainable transport mode will reduce micro-dusts in the Po Valley. Therefore, implementation measures must be taken in order to make sure that the regulatory amendments and the financial support will contribute to transfer freights from roads to waterways, thus promoting a significant innovation as regards the fleet and the inland navigation system” Leoni explained pointing out that several companies strive to use sustainable transports to benefit their image, the environment and the community, without gaining the recognition granted in other countries. We should introduce a “record of environmental impact reductions” for those who engage in sustainable transport in order to single out virtuous companies and grant them public recognition”, the Mantua logistics cluster spokesman concluded.