It took almost thirty years for an autonomous environmental policy to develop in Italy. Three distinct phases in the evolution of environmental policies can actually be identified. The first phase lasted approximately from 1966 to 1975, its most important result being the passing of the air pollution act in 1966, the so called ‘legge anti-smog’. The second phase started in the mid-1970s and ended about ten years later. In that decade, systematic regulations were passed providing adequate legal instruments to cope with major environmental problems. The water pollution act (319/76), also known as ‘legge Merli’, was passed in 1976, while in 1985 the so called ‘legge Galasso’ (431/85) set new and stricter limitations on the possibility of building in environmentally sensitive areas. The third phase of environmental policy started with the creation of the Ministry for the Environment in 1986. The new ministry gave further stimulus to legislative action and attempted to better co-ordinate activities which had been previously fragmented between a number of other departments and public agencies. The act which established the Environmental Ministry also formalized a consultative role for major environmental organizations.