The new legislation was passed on Tuesday with the support of 38 regional councillors, while 27 local lawmakers opposed the move.
Mountain rescue operators now have 120 days to set the tariff to be imposed on people who call emergency services without due reason. The fee will reach up to 50 percent of the total rescue costs, while Lombardy residents should be offered a reduction, the regional council agreed.
The new law is aimed at promoting responsible tourism and cutting the number of unnecessary calls to rescuers.
Councillor Lara Magoni, who backed the new legislation, said that while mountain rescue must be guaranteed, people needed to be given greater reason to act responsibly.
“The request to charge part of the share to the user must be considered solely and exclusively as a preventative deterrent,” to deal with hikers taking unnecessary risks, she said.
But councillor Umberto Ambrosoli said the new rule was “confused” and did not fully address the problem. “It’s an empty measure…leaving more incisive measures of education and assuming responsibility in the background,” he said.
Lombardy authorities carried out 1,155 rescue operations in 2014, up from 985 the year before. As of March 8th this year, 133 rescues had already been carried out in the northern Italian region.
Elsewhere in Italy people already risk heavy fees for calling mountain rescue. In the Veneto region those saved with serious injuries risk a bill of up to €500, while the figure jumps to €7,500 for those who call rescuers but are only lightly hurt.
Trentino-Alto Adige has cracked down on people making unnecessary calls by charging €750, while in Valle d’Aosta the same mistake will cost €137 for every minute a helicopter is in use.