Data source
Date of text
09 Jul 2010
Country
Seat of court
Rome
Original language

Italian

Type of text
National - higher court
Reference number
4457/2010
Court name
Consiglio di Stato
Justice(s)
Cacace, S.
Maruotti, L.
Lodi, P.L.
Leoni, A.
Mollica, B.
Sources
InforMEA
Keywords
forest conservation, forest management, land, property right

Ace Ltd. is a private company owning an agricultural land within the Municipality of Ariccia. The company had submitted to the local authority a project concerning the building of residential areas, a shopping mall and a sport center. The Municipality authorized the project and determined the transformation of the area concerned from agricultural zone into residential zone, pursuant to Regional Act No. 22 of 1997.
However latter the Municipality ordered the suspension of works (Ordinance No. 128 of 2006) and rehabilitation of the land concerned. This ordinance was adopted on grounds of a fire that had affected the surrounding forest area and had damaged the private land owned by Ace Ltd. The area was therefore included in the cadastre of forest areas and pastures affected by forest fires, which determined the prohibition to build in the area concerned.
The company brought suit before the Regional Administrative Tribunal (TAR) of Lazio alleging that the area was not subject to the provisions in force in matter of forest fires (set out under Act No. 353 of 2000) and thus asserting that the ordinance was void. The TAR estimated that the land concerned (where olive trees existed) was not to be considered a forest area; subsequently protection rules concerning areas affected by forest fires were not applicable. The ordinance was thus declared void.
The Municipality of Ariccia appealed against the decision of first instance. The Council of State revoked the decision of first instance helding that the private land concerned was subject to the provisions concerning forest fires. The Court focused on the concept of forest area, as defined under article 10, paragraph 1 of Act No. 353 of 2000. The latter establishes that "forest area" includes lands covered by trees and shrubs (regardless of their development) which means that not only high forests are included in the application scope, but also forests covered by shrubs, brushwoods and cultivations such as olive trees. On these grounds the Court revoked the decision of first instance, denied the claim of the company and confirmed the validity of the contested ordinance.