Car ban in place as northern Italian cities fight smog

Traffic restrictions are in place in parts of northern Italy in a bid to combat high levels of air pollution.

Car ban in place as northern Italian cities fight smog
Photo: Marco Bertorello/AFP

A daytime traffic ban in Turin, where safe limits have been surpassed for 15 consecutive days, has been extended to include Euro 5 diesel cars despite rain being forecast. A similar initiative was imposed in October, when pollution values broke the limit for several days.

Restrictions on Euro 4 cars are in place in Milan, where the pollution rate has also broken the legal limit, and other parts of Lombardy, excluding Como, while 85 municipalities across Veneto have traffic limitations in place.

Dozens of Italian cities are in the air pollution danger zone, with 25 exceeding the EU’s standards for air quality by mid-October, according to a report by Legambiente, the environmental organisation.

EU standards specify that cities should have no more than 35 days of poor air quality – when levels of PM10 pollution exceed 50 micrograms per cubic metre of air – per year.

Turin had 66 days of poor quality air between January and mid-October, followed by Cremona with 58 and Padova with 53. Venice had 52 and Milan 50 during the same period.

Almost all of the worst affected cities are in northern Italy. Only Frosinone, south of Rome and an emerging centre of industry, falls outside Italy's traditional “industrial triangle” in the north-west.



Greenpeace sounds alarm over Spain’s ‘poisonous mega farms’

The “uncontrolled” growth of industrial farming of livestock and poultry in Spain is causing water pollution from nitrates to soar, Greenpeace warned in a new report on Thursday.

Greenpeace sounds alarm over Spain's 'poisonous mega farms'
Pollution from hundreds of intensive pig farms played a major role in the collapse of Murcia Mar Menor saltwater lagoon. Photo: JOSEP LAGO / AFP

The number of farm animals raised in Spain has jumped by more than a third since 2015 to around 560 million in 2020, it said in the report entitled “Mega farms, poison for rural Spain”.

This “excessive and uncontrolled expansion of industrial animal farming” has had a “serious impact on water pollution from nitrates”, it said.

Three-quarters of Spain’s water tables have seen pollution from nitrates increase between 2016 and 2019, the report said citing Spanish government figures.

Nearly 29 percent of the country’s water tables had more than the amount of nitrate considered safe for drinking, according to a survey carried out by Greenpeace across Spain between April and September.

The environmental group said the government was not doing enough.

It pointed out that the amount of land deemed an “area vulnerable to nitrates” has risen to 12 million hectares in 2021, or 24 percent of Spain’s land mass, from around eight million hectares a decade ago, yet industrial farming has continued to grow.

“It is paradoxical to declare more and more areas vulnerable to nitrates”, but at the same time allow a “disproportionate rise” in the number of livestock on farms, Greenpeace said.

Pollution from hundreds of intensive pig farms played a major role in the collapse of one of Europe’s largest saltwater lagoons, the Mar Menor in Spain’s southeast, according to a media investigation published earlier this week.

Scientists blamed decades of nitrate-laden runoffs for triggering vast blooms of algae that had depleted the water of the lagoon of oxygen, leaving fish suffocating underwater.

Two environmental groups submitted a formal complaint in early October to the European Union over Spain’s failure to protect the lagoon.