More meetings have been held to try and diffuse a stand-off over a controversial high speed rail-link between France and Italy. Mayors from the affected Piedmont region met with activists last night to decide whether to go ahead with a weekend protest in the Italian city of Turin. The mayor of Venaus – where tunnel work would begin – welcomed new government proposals to study its environmental impact, but added that potential problems still lie ahead.
The tunnel will be dug under the Alps between Lyon and Turin. The valley is one of the main venues of the 2006 Winter Olympics. Ministers are concerned further demonstrations could spoil the Games. Protests over fears the drilling could release asbestos and uranium have recently turned violent.
Italian Foreign Minister Gianfranco Fini confirmed that local environmental concerns would be addressed and that digging would not start until after the study but insisted the rail link would go ahead. All main stream parties support the project saying it will tie Italy into an important rail network stretching from Spain to Eastern Europe.