Italian court orders Venice to allow large cruise ships

19 March 2014 (Last Updated March 19th, 2014 18:30)

A regional administrative court in Italy has accepted a request from Venice port operator Venezia Terminal Passeggeri, other port firms and a committee representing cruise operators to lift the ban on the entry of large cruise ships in Venice.

A regional administrative court in Italy has accepted a request from Venice port operator Venezia Terminal Passeggeri, other port firms and a committee representing cruise operators to lift the ban on the entry of large cruise ships in Venice.

The ban was introduced by the government of ex-premier Enrico Letta in November 2013, to reduce the number of cruise vessels of more than 40,000t from making their way towards Venice's cruise ship terminal.

More stringent rules were set to be introduced this November that would have banned ships of more than 96,000t from entering the terminal.

"The government must hurry up and find solutions and take immediate measures for the good of the city and the lagoon ecosystem."

The ban was imposed to prevent the world heritage-listed city from environmental damage and risks caused by cruise ships, and to prevent incidents such as the Costa Concordia cruise ship crash in early 2012 off the coast of Tuscany that left 32 people dead.

However, a regional court has now suspended the ban stating that the risks posed by the cruise ships have not been proven and there were no alternative routes for large cruise ships.

Speaking against the court's verdict, Italian environmental group Legambiente said it is not a good sign and it is the result of a reckless choice that has created the practice of channelling cruise ships in an environment where they should be banned.

"Now the government must hurry up and find solutions and take immediate measures for the good of the city and the lagoon ecosystem," Legambiente said.

The issue has been suspended until the next hearing on 12 June.