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Protecting the environment and biodiversity
GRI - G4: SO2

In order to develop new establishments, besides technical and economic feasibility criteria, Snam adopts procedures that meet stringent environmental compatibility and safety assessments.

Assessments of the effects on the surrounding environment concern all phases of a project’s life cycle: location, design, execution, operation and decommissioning. These assessments are made as part of the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), after which the administrations in charge, both centrally and locally, issue the authorisations provided for by current regulations.

With regard to developing the network of gas pipelines, which represents the most recurring and significant event, in the design phase the path is chosen from among different alternatives, seeking to avoid or reduce to the necessary minimum the network’s passage through areas of significant natural or cultural interest, archaeological areas, geologically unstable areas and anthropised areas or those in which new residential settlements are expected.

Progress and Past: archaeological finds recovered during excavation are exhibited

In the final months of 2013, the exhibition “Progress and Past” was conceived, created and then inaugurated in January 2014 at the Ala Ponzone Civic Museum in Cremona, which displays archaeological finds from excavations carried out between 2010 and 2011 when Snam laid a section of methane pipeline between Cremona and Sergnano. Supported by the government department responsible for archaeological finds in Lombardy, the exhibition was also made possible by restoration work sponsored by Snam (which remained within deadline) at the pipeline site. The results of the research will thus be on public display, ensuring the conservation of these objects of historical value to the Cremona region. The exhibition offers a cross-section of the population in the Cremona region, extending across time and space: more than 66 sites were discovered along a stretch of land of just over 70 km, ranging in age from prehistory to modern times.

The protection and conservation efforts continued beyond the onsite work: the work done by the archaeologists who collected the finds and the associated data was explored further by a study group made up of specialists in various historical periods and from a range of disciplines, and the fragility of the items discovered required the close attention of restorers who ensured the best level of conservation. A publication was issued and some conferences were also organised alongside the exhibition to explore certain aspects of the more complex contexts emerging during the various discoveries.

In special cases in the construction phase, procedures and technologies are used, consistent with technical feasibility, which lessen interference with the surrounding environment, such as reducing the extent of the work area, minimising provisional worksite infrastructure and trenchless execution techniques (tunnels and micro-tunnels), as alternatives to traditional excavation. Once installation is done, accurate environmental restoration activity is carried out so as to return the land to its original conditions.

In the decommissioning phase, infrastructure is removed by agreement with the relevant authorities. In some cases, in order to safeguard the biodiversity reconstituted thanks to restoration interventions, the possibility of keeping piping underground after it has ceased to be active, thus avoiding additional worksite activities, is evaluated.

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EIA decrees obtained during the year







Length (km)
Power (MW)

Regions involved

Competent agencies

Date of decree

Gavi - Pietralavezzara methane pipeline

26 km


Piedmont Region


Compression station at Minerbio
Upgrade of compression station at Poggio Renatico
Minerbio - Poggio Renatico methane pipeline

2x12 MW
1x25 MW
20 km


Emilia-Romagna Region


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Provisions for verification of whether subject to EIA obtained during the year







Length (km)
Power (MW)

Regions involved

Competent agencies

Date of decree

Foligno-Sestino methane pipeline: variation in the Municipalities of Gubbio and Gualdo Tadino

7.8 km


Environment Ministry


Exclusion of EIA for installation of the new TC7 turbine at the Minerbio storage plant



Environment Ministry


Exclusion of EIA for plant alterations to create the new Bordolano storage plant



Environment Ministry


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EIA requests submitted to the Ministry of the Environment and the Ministry of Cultural Heritage in the year





Regions involved

Date of submission

Creation of new gas storage concession Alfonsine Stoccaggio

Emilia Romagna


Exercise at Pmax = 1.10 Pi Level C2 and New Development Level F Concession Fiume Treste Storage

Abruzzo and Molise


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EIA decrees submitted to regional authorities in the year






Length (km)

Regions involved

Date of submission

Bussero - Osnago methane pipeline and connection points

26 km



Biodiversity GRI - G4: EN13, EN14, SO1

In terms of environmental sustainability, Snam considers it particularly important to safeguard the natural value of local areas affected by new works, beginning with specialised field investigations to acquire knowledge that is as complete as possible of the local area traversed. The results of these investigations help to define and implement the most appropriate design choices for reducing to a minimum the biodiversity impacts generated, particularly in the execution phases, which are followed by environmental restoration and monitoring thereof, carried out in agreement and in cooperation with the entities in charge.

The objective of vegetation restoration, in particular reforestation, is not merely to reconstitute forest areas but to reconstitute the landscape in general and to revive the biological functionality of vegetated areas, understood especially in their role as habitats for fauna with specific biodiversity characteristics. Restoration and reforestation are followed by the execution of “plant care”, i.e. caring for and maintaining the bedded-out plants for a period of at least five years.

Monitoring projects concern the courses of some methane pipelines that interfere, even marginally, with natural local areas high in fauna and ecological value, and they are geared towards the verification of the process of renaturalising areas affected by works, based on a comparison of conditions after restoration (“post-completion”) and the original conditions (“pre-completion”). Monitoring is normally performed for the most significant habitats identified in the design phase.


Distance covered by methane pipelines in Natura 2000 network sites (km) (Bar chart)
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Natura 2000 sites affected by the course of methane pipelines
GRI - G4: EN11



Special Protection Zone/Site of EU interest


Pollino and Orsomarso


Fiumara Laverde


Monti Peloritani, Dorsale Curcuraci, Antennamare and marine area of the Messina Strait


Livenza river environment and lower course of Monticano


River Toce and gravel bed of Toce river branch between Domodossola and Villadossola


Belangero ponds


Lomellina rice fields


Danesi pits


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Environmental restoration and monitoring (network km)

















Plant care




Environmental monitoring




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Major environmental monitoring and restoration during the year






Activities conducted

Friuli-Venezia Giulia Region

Malborghetto - Bordano methane pipeline

In the Malborghetto - Bordano section of the pipeline, in the Val Alba regional nature reserve, the ten-year fauna research and monitoring activities continued with the help of international experts. 2013 was the ninth and penultimate year of fauna monitoring.

Sicily Region

Bronte - Montalbano methane pipeline

Collaboration with the Sicily state forests agency continued, with the growing of native forest plants destined for reforestation projects along the course of the pipelines laid in the Nebrodi regional park. Periodic plant care was carried out in 2013, along with the replacement of plants that had not taken root. Replacement plants are also supplied by the Sicily state forests agency nurseries.

Safeguarding biodiversity (GRI - G4: EN12, EN14)

2013 was the ninth and penultimate year of fauna monitoring at the Val Alba regional nature reserve, along the Malborghetto - Bordano section of the methane pipeline. The ten-year monitoring programme has taken place in accordance with the requirement contained in the environmental compatibility decree that the Ministry of the Environment, Land and Sea had issued in 2002 to authorise the building of the infrastructure.

The decree specifically stipulated the execution of monitoring for a ten-year period of faunal dynamics for significant zoological groups in the Site of Community Importance (SIC): the Val Alba regional nature reserve includes the “Zuc dal Bor” SIC, which is crossed by the Malborghetto - Bordano methane pipeline.

The results of the two-year period 2012-2013 were processed in 2013; 2014 will be the tenth and final year of fauna monitoring, and a special final report will be drawn up to conclude this decade of observation.

The section of pipeline monitored is located within the Val Alba nature reserve, which has natural beech woods alongside spruce forests (spruce pine reforestation). Over a period, the spruce pines replaced some open areas originally used for pasture. There are still some old Alpine huts in the reserve, that were used as “cheese caves” for on-site processing of the milk produced by the herd during the summer pasture season. The methane pipeline runs through the valley for a short stretch between the southern opening of the Galleria Chiavals and the northern opening of Galleria Masereit. Part of it runs alongside a forest road and all of it runs parallel to an existing methane pipeline. When work on the pipeline was completed, vegetation restoration work was carried out, with trees and shrubs planted (whitebeam, mountain ash, willow, poplar and mountain maple saplings, all native species produced by regional nurseries), as well as grass. The ten-year monitoring of new ecosystems generated by revegetation work (monitoring of soil and vegetation), successfully completed in 2012, was also carried out.

As in previous years, in the two-year period 2012-2013 records of fauna within the monitoring area were also taken in all four seasons. The monitoring work focused on direct observations (sightings), calls, traces in the snow and droppings recorded (quality and quantity) using pellet count methods. In the spring of 2012 and the end of the summer of 2013, two four-week intensive monitoring sessions took place, using ten passive infrared video camera traps.

In 2013, the eight “hair trigger” camera traps placed in the field in previous years were kept active, in addition to the technical equipment for recording large carnivores. Overall, 133 hours of fauna recordings were made (tracks in snow, pellet counts and direct observations, including with the aid of a lamp).

In 2013, all of the recording techniques provided evidence of the presence of all the species previously recorded, i.e. nine species of mammal, namely deer (Cervus elaphus), roe deer (Capreolus capreolus), chamois (Rupicapra rupicapra), foxes (Vulpes vulpes), badgers (Meles meles), martens (Martes martes), stone martens (Martes foina), common hares (Lepus europaeus), variable hares (Lepus timidus), and four species of birds, namely golden eagles (Aquila chrysaetos), buzzards (Buteo buteo), tawny owls (Strix aluco) and grouse (Bonaria bonasia), which were among the surveyed species. There were also many species of birds that were not specifically surveyed.

The video camera traps alone recorded the following: 79 roe deer, 36 deer, 6 chamois, 11 foxes, 2 martens, 1 stone marten and 1 badger. There was a substantial increase in the presence of people (tourists) with at least 234 events recorded. The hair-trigger traps again showed no usable results for the species surveyed using these techniques (large carnivores such as bears, wolves and lynx).

The work performed largely confirms the trends seen in previous years. The situation for fauna, particularly the herbivores, has improved overall. Numbers of roe deer rose slightly, although this species is very dynamic and fluctuates continually. Numbers of deer again rose markedly, with either constant or higher reproductive events, while autumn belling decreased. This could have been caused by human disturbance, although no direct evidence of this was recorded. The chamois is still the only hoofed species that has not met its potential: the effects of repeated sarcoptic mange infections are apparent, and the population remains stable at low numbers. Among the small herbivores, numbers of white hares and common hares remained stable. The situation for small carnivores seems stable, with a slight upturn in fox numbers, although some cases of scabies – which inhibits the vitality of the population – were again recorded in 2013. There were again no recordings made of large carnivores (bears, wolves and lynx), although there was again evidence of their presence in the directly neighbouring areas.

Sustainable pathways for the Parco delle Prealpi Giulie

The second volume of the Sustainable Pathways series was published in 2013: the series was created to raise awareness of Snam’s commitment to safeguarding the environment, vegetation and morphological restoration and the best practices that distinguish its mode of operation when creating gas transportation infrastructure. The project is also intended as a way to highlight the richness of vulnerable regions, complex ecosystems and parks and protected areas with which it has developed partnerships and experience, under a shared value model designed to create opportunities both for the Company and for the region.

This second volume in the series, which was created with the support of the Ministry of the Environment and edited by 24 ORE Cultura, reports on the collaboration between the authority responsible for the Parco delle Prealpi Giulie and Snam, which led to the creation of a major energy structure for the country – the Malborghetto - Bordano methane pipeline. The pipeline is used to import gas from Russia, and a small section of it crosses the Val Alba nature reserve. The volume describes the geographical features, vegetation and wildlife of the area, as well as the interaction with the regional authorities and the park’s potential in terms of the economy and tourism. It shows how it is possible to build an infrastructure and yet recover the original landscape and safeguard biodiversity and ecosystems, with the aim of restoring the original conditions and even improving on them if possible.

The reconstruction of the pre-existing natural conditions, and protecting and safeguarding biodiversity, were the guiding principles for the environmental restoration project.

Underlying the process, and an essential factor in identifying the action to be taken, was the meticulous scientific investigative work carried out by technicians and researchers in the sector on soil, vegetation and faunal dynamics. This work went on for approximately eight years, from the planning phase to well beyond the end of the mitigation works.

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