EN26Since 2002, Terna created a completely new scenario regarding the construction of infrastructures in Italy. In the practice that had been followed until then, discussion with local institutions started only at the beginning of the authorization process, when the planning of the infrastructure was already at the execution stage.EU19Environmental considerations were introduced at that stage through the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) procedure. This approach led to strong opposition by the local institutions involved and the related population, with the result that often changes in the original plan were required and the work suffered delays. In EC8some cases, it was even impossible to find a feasible solution.

Terna decided to carry out the discussion with local institutions before the strategic planning stage of the work – the construction of new lines and stations – included in its Development Plan.

Participation of local institutions in defining works that concern the territory reduces opposition during the authorization phase for the infrastructures, and facilitates acceptance and sustainability of the planned works. The method used provides for early consultation with local government and other institutions at different levels (regions, provinces, and municipalities), based on shared criteria for characterizing the territory and aimed at finding the optimal location for the new plants. The solutions reached in this way are ratified by the signing of specific agreements between Terna and the above-mentioned governments. Ultimately, Terna’s approach has entailed the voluntary development of a method of relating to local stakeholders based on the Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) of environment integration in the planning process. At that time the subject of EC Directive 2001/42/EC, the SEA was to be adopted by Italian law only many years later – in 2007, with Legislative Decree 152/2006 – and with considerably less complex implications as far as relations with local institutions are concerned.

The choice of following the SEA method to construct a transparent, documented, repeatable, and participatory planning process was agreed on and developed by Terna with a national work group (the “SEA” Negotiating Group) formally established in 2005, in which the Ministry of the Environment, the Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Activities, the Ministry for Economic Development, and the governments of the regions and the autonomous provinces participated. The group’s work has been supplemented by the gradual signing of memorandums of understanding and planning agreements with regional and local governments to formally establish the progress of the mutual commitments.

Since 2002, Terna has signed agreements on the application of the SEA method with 18 Regions, including the Autonomous Province of Trento.


senza-titolo-9.jpg Agreements signed

Over the years, the model based on the SEA has undergone significant changes, according to a complex and fruitful cooperation among the parties, and is currently organized into different levels of discussion, analysis, and assessment:

  • at the strategic level, the reasons for developing the National Transmission Grid – i.e., the new work to plan in response to the problems identified – are presented (1:250.000 scale);
  • at the structural level, the process shared with the territory of finding possible locations for the corridors begins. These are strips of land up to several kilometers that are suitable for hosting the planned work (1:50.000 scale);
  • at the execution level, possible alternative locations for the project infrastructure are identified inside the chosen corridor as feasibility ranges for the route (1:10.000 scale), i.e. segments of land up to several hundreds of meters inside of which the project’s route can be developed.

Criteria of territorial characterization

As part of consultation with local institutions, one of the most effective instruments for selecting the alternatives with the least impact consists in agreeing on the ERPA location criteria (Exclusion, Repulsion, Problems, and Attraction).

The area in question, with its soil use classifications and its relative protection restrictions, is characterized according to criteria that express its greater or lesser suitability to host the different kinds of work. Working within the SEA group, Terna and the Regions agreed on a system of criteria based on four classes:

  • Exclusion: areas in which any kind of construction is excluded.
  • Repulsion: areas where it is preferable not to construct, unless there is no alternative or there are only ones that are even less environmentally compatible, and in any case in compliance with the prescriptive framework agreed on.
  • Problems: areas in which the landscape is problematic for an objective reason documented by the bodies involved and that therefore require further territorial analysis.
  • Attraction: areas to favor whenever possible after checking the area’s load capacity.

Every class of the ERPA criteria includes several categories. Currently, the Exclusion criterion includes the areas the law recognizes as to be excluded absolutely, such as airports and military zones, and areas the law does not directly exclude, but which are restricted by specific agreements beforehand between Terna and the bodies involved.

The Repulsion criterion includes areas that may be taken into consideration only in the absence of alternatives; protected natural areas, with regard to which specific agreements are made, and areas that are to be taken into consideration only if there are no alternatives that are more environmentally compatible.

The Attraction criterion includes areas with good landscape compatibility and areas that already host line infrastructure, such as infrastructure and energy corridors, in which the location of a new line – if it is compatible with the area’s load capacity – is more sustainable than in new areas that do not have any line infrastructure.

By using GIS (Geographic Information System) technology, all layers of information concerning the above-mentioned different types of soil use and protection restrictions (territorial, naturalistic, cultural, landscape, etc.) can be considered integrally, and can be suitably redistributed within the different ERPA criteria classes in order to identify localized possibilities – in terms of “corridors” – sustainable for development works of the NTG and consistent and compatible with the layout of the territory that they will affect.

The integrated planning processSO1



The diagram shows the integrated planning process Terna developed in agreement with the national “SEA Group”. This process promotes the consultation approach developed over the years by Terna (“regional level”), which has harmonized it with the procedure required by the regulations in force (“national level”).

“Integrated planning” means that the activities of planning the electricity system are engaged in a constant dialogue with the activities of consultation. Terna believes that in this way it can contribute to ensuring the sustainability of NTG development planning, since it concretely incorporates the environmental considerations that arise from its dialogue with local institutions in the planning itself.

The national level is the formal level of the SEA procedure as established by law (Legislative Decree 152/2006 and similar), which applies to the Development Plan and provides for the preparation of an Environmental Report (ER) in which the effects that the implementation of the plan or program could have on the environment are identified, described, and assessed.

The different stages into which the national level is organized are those of orientation, formulation, consultation, approval, and monitoring of the Development Plan, the related Environmental Report and the Preliminary Report (PR), which defines the orientation or screening stage.

The regional level represents the concrete level of the “dialogue with local institutions”, i.e. of the precautionary consultation that Terna has carried out since 2002 with regional and local governments to seek and agree on the most viable and sustainable solutions for the location of the infrastructure necessary for the development of the NTG.

Whenever agreements are reached with regional and local governments they are recorded in the Development Plan (DP) or in the related Environmental Report. An essential aspect of the integrated planning process described above is the coordination between the two levels, leaving appropriate decision-making autonomy to the regional level, which proceeds in any case according to the criteria and methods established by the national level ( national “SEA Group”).

The SEA portal

To improve quality and transparency with its stakeholders, in 2011 Terna created a new interactive corporate portal dedicated to the SEA procedure of the NTG Development Plan.

Through the SEA Portal ( it is possible to consult not only the Environmental Report, with reference to mapping, but also data concerning the SEA monitoring of the implementation of the Plan.

Through the cartographic portal, moreover, one can follow the structure of the Plan on a regional basis, in the sole environmental, social, technical and economic aspect, or in its whole, utilizing evaluation indicators and concise sustainability indexes.

From the SEA portal it is possible to monitor via web, also from a cartographic point of view, the progressive implementation of the Plan, on the basis of specific indicators defined for evaluating variations, if any, that can occur between the coordinated action, the authorized project and the action taken.