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Schumacher's Swiss dream home bugs locals

Plans for Schumacher's new Swiss home have divided opinion Keystone Archive

Formula One star Michael Schumacher's plans to build an idyllic estate in the Swiss countryside have come under fire from conservationists.

This content was published on February 14, 2002 - 17:02

However Schumacher said on Tuesday - through his Swiss lawyer Peter Münch - he was prepared to talk with opponents of his planned multi-million Swiss franc base.

Germany's reigning world champion has called Switzerland home for several years, living with his family in the French-speaking town of Vufflens-de-Château, near Lake Geneva.

But last year the Schumacher family decided to move to the tiny German-speaking canton of Appenzell Outer Rhodes, purchasing a 15-hectare property in Wolfhalden.

Schumacher released details of his sprawling "Schumi-villa", which will include a swimming pool, fitness room, living quarters for seven house staff, and stalls for his wife Corinna's five horses.

Green groups unhappy

Environmentalists have reacted negatively to the proposal. The Foundation for the Protection of Swiss Landscapes and the non-profit conservation group Pro Natura both launched public campaigns against the planned estate early this year.

The groups say they are not particularly bothered by the proposed house and barn, but argue the estate symbolises the lack of coordinated government planning which would stop Switzerland's landscape being blighted by haphazard or eyesore designs.

Münch said Schumacher was more than happy to personally explain his project to conservationists, but said he still planned to build.

"The family Schumacher has no intention of burying its building plans just yet," said Münch.

Green image

The row comes at an embarrassing time for Schumacher, who has been polishing his green credentials in recent months.

The F1 driver is featuring in a high-gloss global campaign for Switzerland's tourism industry this year, emphasising his personal support for the protection of the Swiss Alps.

Mario Pighi, head of Wolfhalden local council, supports the planned villa, and said Schumacher wanted to move before the start of the new school year this autumn so his two children would be educated in German.

The Ferrari driver - who earns over SFr80 million ($48 million) per year - chose the home site on a hill 900 meters above sea-level for its spectacular views over Lake Constance and beyond to the Austrian and German Alps.

Schumi tax

But not all of his new neighbours, it seems, are opposed to the building plans. Trudi Alini, an 83-year-old local, told the "Blick" newspaper last year she would welcome Schumacher with open arms. "When Schumi comes, our taxes will fall. I look forward to him moving in".

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