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Expansion plans for Porsche test track in Italy halted

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The expansion of a huge Porsche test track in southern Italy has been halted for the time being by the authorities in the region of Apulia, following protests by environmentalists.

Activists recently collected around 40,000 signatures to oppose the plans of the German car manufacturer. The president of the region has now decided to suspend the agreement on the project at the test site, according to a statement issued on Wednesday evening.

“The region is once again showing that it wants to reconcile the public interest underlying the realization of the project with environmental protection,” said Michele Emiliano, according to the statement.

In agreement with the Ministry of the Environment in Rome, the region had taken a decision to reconsider some aspects of the procedure.

Porsche has taken note of the Puglia region’s decision, a spokesman said on Thursday. “We are open to further dialogue with all parties involved in the development plan and the public.”

The company insisted that its aims had not changed. “We want to ensure the future viability of the Nardò Technical Centre and strengthen its role as an important employer and economic factor in the region,” the spokesman continued.

Porsche operates one of the most modern test centres in the world not far from the town of Nardò, just a few kilometres from the Gulf of Taranto.

The Nardò Technical Centre includes a circular test track with a length of 12.6 kilometres and a diameter of around 4 kilometres. The site also has other vehicle test tracks.

Porsche says it intends to spend around €450 million ($486 milion) on the expansion of the facility. However, environmentalists complain that a huge area of countryside, including parts of a forest, will have to be sacrificed for the project.

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