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Zurich airport limitation plans turned down

Voters have rejected initiatives that would have curbed development at Switzerland’s biggest airport.

In a Zurich cantonal vote on Sunday 58.7 per cent of voters were against plans to block building new runways or extensions at Zurich airport. There was stronger opposition to a counter proposal that would have stopped flights over residential areas, with it rejected by 68.2 per cent of voters.

Turnout for the vote was 44 per cent. The first initiative had been put forward by 42 Zurich communes and had the backing of the Zurich cantonal parliament. Senators were against it.

Transport Minister Doris Leuthard and the Swiss Business Federation shared the view that approval of the proposals would have further complicated long-running talks with Germany over the noise of the airport’s flight path, which is just 20 miles from the border.

The aircraft noise row is decades old but stepped up in 2003 when Germany moved to unilaterally restrict the number of flights over its territory and enforce a total ban on night landings and take offs. Planes were forced to fly instead over the densely populated areas south and east of Zurich.

The Swiss have lost successive appeals over the German decree and in October 2010 said they were taking the dispute to the European Court of Justice.

Both Sunday’s proposals were opposed by rightwing parties and the business communities in both southern Germany and northern Switzerland, but were backed by the Social Democrats, the Greens and Green Liberals.

Supporters believed the annual maximum capacity of 350,000 flights set in the airport regulations were sufficient as there are only 270,000 flights currently. 

swissinfo.ch and agencies


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