Naples suffers an outbreak of 'Nimby-ism' as protesters trash plans for rubbish dump

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The Independent Online

Four people were arrested yesterday and dozens, including 41 police, were recovering from injuries after a demonstration in a suburb of Naples to protest about the construction of a rubbish incinerator.

Four people were arrested yesterday and dozens, including 41 police, were recovering from injuries after a demonstration in a suburb of Naples to protest about the construction of a rubbish incinerator.

The latest battlefront in the seemingly unending Naples rubbish wars, is Acerra, a couple of miles from the city centre. Years ago, it was chosen as the site for an incinerator. The first protest was in 2000.

But when construction began in earnest this month, a local coalition sprang up to resist it, uniting communists, Greens, no-globals and ordinary citizens. Mayor Espedito Marletta, a communist, took a leading role, and was among those injured on Sunday.

The march to the incinerator building site was billed as peaceful. Women and children, farmers and cows and the mayor in his tricolour sash were in the lead.

But as the demonstrators approached the building site, a group near the front broke away and began pelting riot police with stones and rubbish bins. The police replied with teargas, sending the peaceful demonstrators fleeing in panic.

Naples and the surrounding areas have been at war with the national authorities for years over their rubbish. As the quantity the city produced outstripped the capacity to process it, incinerators and landfills were planned. But in each case they met explosive outbursts of campanalismo, the Italian version of Nimby-ism. Campanile means bell tower, and campanalismo is the chauvinistic loyalty of those within earshot of a town's church bell to their own area.

Last year, protests similar to this weekend's stopped the construction of two giant incinerators in Naples. Rubbish collection in the city broke down, and Neapolitans took the law into their own hands, setting fire to mounds of city rubbish that had accumulated in the streets.

Then in June this year, protesters in the town of Montecorvino Rovella, 40 miles south-east of Naples, blocked Italy's main north-south railway lines for several days, protesting the planned reopening of a landfill site near the town.

As Naples seems unable to summon the political will to deal with its own detritus, and the north of Italy has made it plain that it will not receive it, the only answer may be to send it abroad. A plan has been floated to export Italian rubbish to Albania, causing immediate protests in the capital, Tirana.

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