An update from the No TAV campaign and thoughts on its relevance for Stop HS2

The No TAV campaign in northern Italy has been fighting an expensive, unneeded and corrupt high speed railway link for over three decades. The proposed mafia-linked freight train service from Turin to Lyon has been repeatedly exposed for its fantastical predictions and is slated by local people who see no reason to leave their homes for a white elephant. If you are already thinking about the similarities to HS2 here in England then you are in the right place. I will start by giving a very brief history of No TAV, then an update on recent events. In the second half, I will concentrate on what the Stop HS2 movement can learn from No TAV.

For those who have never heard of the No TAV movement, it is a campaign born thirty odd years ago to resist the construction of a 270 kilometre long high speed railway (Treno di Alta Velocita) between Turin (in Italy) and Lyon (in France). There is widespread opposition on both French and Italian soil, since the railway is a corrupt scheme proposing to transport freight based on fantasy figures and the people who live along the route see no benefit (the train won’t be stopping there). They argue that the already existing railway infrastructure should be improved instead. The resistance is greatest in the breathtakingly beautiful Val di Susa (Susa Valley), which stretches from Turin to the Alps for fifty kilometres. In summer, the valley is bright with colours, the blue sky and green grass bisected by the snow on the mountains. It has a unique environment, since one side sees the sun and the other does not. The train line would rip straight through it before entering a tunnel of 57.5 kilometres to France. This tunnel would be longer than the Chunnel and in fact would just squeeze in as the longest rail tunnel in the world, if it ever gets built. Local people are concerned that drilling into the mountains will disturb uranium and asbestos deposts, that mafia construction will lead to health hazards and that the overall economic case for TAV no longer stands up.
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Italy: Convictions over eviction of Free Republic of Maddalena; No TAV respond with blockades

via contra info:

The so-called ‘No TAV mega-trial’ has finished at first instance, in which 53 comrades are involved over the eviction resistance of the Free Republic of Maddalena on June 27th, 2011, and for the attack of the construction site of Chiomonte on July 3rd that followed. Charges of causing bodily-harm and aggravated violence, resistance against custodial staff of the public authority, defacement and covering faces (masking up) became sentences which varied between a few months and four and a half years in prison for 47 defendants. Heavy sentences, but less than the requests of the prosecutors Pedrotta and Quaglino—who, on October 7th, 2014, demanded 200 years of prison in total—except for a few comrades, against whom the judge decided to tighten the screw a bit more than what was proposed by the prosecution. On the other hand, six people were acquitted of charges.

When leaving the room, the No TAV supporters present at the trial invaded and blocked the route of Corso Regina Margherita for about twenty minutes in both directions, at the point of the bunker room [the special court of Torino, built into the Vallette jail, near the beginning of the motorway], to protest against the sentences given by the judges. [Read More]