The Swiss government has called on voters to reject a people’s initiative limiting the number of holiday homes and apartments to 20 per cent of a commune’s total number of residences.
Environment Minister Doris Leuthard said on Friday the initiative, which will be put to a vote in March, was too rigid. It would bring a sudden halt to construction projects underway in resorts, and put pressure on areas where quotas had not yet been reached, she added.
Leuthard said accepting the initiative would not resolve the problem of so-called cold – or unoccupied - beds at tourism destinations either, something recently introduced planning legislation should be able to do.
The initiative “to end the invasive construction of secondary residences” was launched by Helvetia Nostra (Our Switzerland), a lobby group established by leading environmentalist Franz Weber.
“Switzerland is the country with the most construction in Europe, and the country will be finished if we don’t stop it,” Weber recently told swissinfo.ch. “The aim is to protect the regions of the country which have not yet been violated.”
According to Helvetia Nostra, 8,000 secondary residences – houses or apartments – are built in Switzerland each year.
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