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Government rejects sprawl initiatives

The government has rejected two people's initiatives targeting the construction of environmentally unfriendly buildings and second homes.

Environment Minister Moritz Leuenberger on Wednesday said the initiatives, submitted by the environmental group Helvetia Nostra, were unbalanced and too strict in their demands.

One of the proposals would restrict the building of second homes by 20 per cent while the other would limit the construction of facilities including industrial complexes, airports, shopping centres and stadiums.

Parliament will discuss the matter and Swiss citizens will have their say, although no date for a nationwide vote has been set.

The government contends the tandem initiatives, spearheaded by environmentalist Franz Weber and submitted last December with slightly fewer than 110,000 signatures, do not take into account the country's economic and political interests.

"Economic and cultural development would be largely stalled, and Switzerland would rapidly lose its competitiveness to foreign countries," said Leuenberger.

He said the issue of second homes would have to be resolved by the cantonal governments.

Leuenberger added that the government was not considering an indirect counterproposal at the moment but that planning rules could be reviewed to better combat urban sprawl.


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