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Photovoltaic system on Mar Piccolo, Taranto

Question écrite de Mme Rosa D'AMATO - Commission européenne

Question de Mme Rosa D'AMATO,

Diffusée le 18 mars 2024

Subject: Photovoltaic system on Mar Piccolo, Taranto

The company M-Floating Mar Piccolo S.r.l. has put forward plans for a floating (offshore) solar park with a capacity of 100 MW, along with a 25 MW green hydrogen plant, a mussel seed capture installation and tourism-related structures – all to be built in an area of national interest in Taranto1.

Spanning 90 ha of the sea, obscuring the surface of the water and potentially disturbing the species living there, the project will have a tremendous impact on the natural systems of Mar Piccolo, which is not only a regional park but also classified as a site of Community importance (SIC) and a special area of conservation (SAC) with code IT9130004, protected by the Habitats Directive (92/43/EEC).

What is more, the project is to be financed using resources from the integrated national energy and climate plan under the national recovery and resilience plan (NRRP)2; however, although it concerns renewable energy and green hydrogen, it is not in line with the ‘do no significant harm’ principle when it comes to the sustainable use and protection of marine and water resources or the protection and restoration of biodiversity and ecosystem health.

In the light of the above, can the Commission answer the following questions:

1. Does it consider approval of the project to be in breach of Article 12 of Directive 92/43/EEC?

2. Does it deem it necessary to deny this project NRRP funds?




Réponse - Commission européenne

Diffusée le 22 mai 2024

Answer given by Mr Sinkevičius on behalf of the European Commission (23 May 2024)

1. Article 12 of the Habitats Directive (3) requires all Member States to establish a strict protection regime for species listed in Annex IV of the directive, prohibiting inter alia their deliberate capture, killing and disturbance. The Commission has no information indicating that the project mentioned by the Honourable Member would lead to a possible breach of Article 12. The Commission also notes that, according to Article 16 (1) of the directive, Member States may derogate from the provisions of Article 12 for imperative reasons of overriding public interest and that Council Regulation (EU) 2022/257 7 (4) and Directive (EU) 2023/2413 (5) introduced a presumption that the planning, construction and operation of renewable energy plants shall be presumed as being in the overriding public interest and serving public health and safety, except where there is clear evidence that those projects have significant adverse effects on the environment.

2. The project appears linked to an investment removed from the Recovery and Resilience Plan (RRP) (6) during the revision of the Plan (M2C2 Investment 1.3 ‘Promotion of innovative systems — including off-shore’ in the original Council Implementing Decision). More information would be needed for the Commission to provide a complete answer.

The Commission evaluates compliance with the ‘Do No Significant Harm’ (DNSH) principle for every measure upon submission of the RRPs.

Member States need to ensure that DNSH commitments align with technical guidance and comply with Union and national laws, including environmental legislation.

Upon submission of a payment request, the Commission verifies that Member States completed the milestones and targets in their recovery and resilience plan.

1 ∙ ⸱

2 ∙ ⸱

3 ∙ ⸱ Council Directive 92/43/EEC of 21 May 1992 on the conservation of natural habitats and of wild fauna and flora, OJ L 206, 22.7.1992, p. 7-50.

4 ∙ ⸱ Council Regulation (EU) 2022/2577 of 22 December 2022 laying down a framework to accelerate the deployment of renewable energy, OJ L 335, 29.12.2022,

p. 36-44. 5 ∙ ⸱

Directive (EU) 2023/2413 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 18 October 2023 amending Directive (EU) 2018/2001, Regulation (EU) 2018/1999 and Directive 98/70/EC as regards the promotion of energy from renewable sources, and repealing Council Directive (EU) 2015/652, OJ L, 2023/2413, 31.10.2023. 6 ∙ ⸱

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