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Italian bureaucracy rocks plans to stabilise tower

NEWS

STABILISATION OF Italy's Leaning Tower of Pisa is under threat once again from Italian government bureaucracy.

Successful preliminary work has proved the delicate soil extraction technique being used to stabilise the 14th century monument's foundations. But delays in rubber stamping the necessary legislation mean that the project team has neither the mandate nor the funding to continue.

Professor John Burland of Imperial College London, who is leading the technical team, explained this week that the delays would prevent the team from pressing on with the main stabilisation as no contract can be awarded without new legislation.

'We cannot do anything that was not approved before the end of last year,' said Burland. 'We are about to go out to tender for the main contract but we don't have a law and we don't have any money. Nobody knows how long it will take.'

Preliminary work saw temporary steel support cables attached to the tower before material was excavated from 12 holes drilled below the central 5m of the foundation to correct the tilt.

Burland said that, so far, the tilt had been reduced by more than 100 arc seconds, five times the original target.

The team needs a further £2-3M to extend the work across the full 20m foundation width. This should reduce the tilt by half a degree, so cutting stress in the masonry by 10%.

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