The Swiss Times - Swiss News in English

Federal Council wants to restrict the right of associations to lodge complaints about residential buildings

Updated at 27 Mar 2024 11:11 am

The right of appeal by associations is to be restricted for smaller residential construction projects within the building zone. The Federal Council agrees with the proposals of the National Council's Environment and Spatial Planning Committee.

On Wednesday, the Federal Council adopted its opinion on the bill. It agrees that the right of associations to lodge complaints against construction projects should be restricted for residential buildings with a floor area of up to 400 square meters. However, this is subject to the project being located in a construction zone.

Exceptions requested

The majority of the National Council's Committee for the Environment, Spatial Planning and Energy (Urek-N) is also proposing 400 square meters as the upper limit. The Federal Council does not agree with the proposal of a minority to set 250 square meters as the limit. The limit seems too low, it writes.

The Federal Council also agrees with the exceptions proposed by the majority. Complaints by associations should therefore remain possible if a construction project has an impact on important sites or cultural monuments. It also agrees to include a list of objects in the spatial planning ordinance.

The Federal Council also considers the exception for sensitive areas to be appropriate. These include biotopes of national, cantonal and communal importance as well as water areas in construction zones. Associations should also be able to continue to lodge complaints in these areas.

"No David against Goliath"

With the amendments to the Nature and Cultural Heritage Protection Act, the Urek-N wants to prevent parties with too different resources from facing each other in appeal proceedings. At the time, Center Party leader Philipp Matthias Bregy (VS) titled the parliamentary initiative with which he launched the bill "No David against Goliath".

The Urek-N project is controversial. In the consultation process, it met with approval from the SVP, FDP and the Center Party. The SP and the Greens rejected it, and environmental and landscape protection organizations also opposed it. And 14 cantons welcomed the bill, ten were against it.

At the end of 2008, the people and cantons rejected the popular initiative "Verbandsbeschwerderecht. Put an end to obstructionism - more growth for Switzerland" with a 66% "no" vote. As a result, the right of appeal for associations was protected in principle.

In the National Council in April

Under the Nature and Cultural Heritage Protection Act, organizations dedicated to nature conservation, cultural heritage protection, monument preservation or related objectives now have a right of appeal. Unlike the Environmental Protection Act, however, this law does not have any restrictions.

According to the Environmental Protection Act, environmental protection organizations defined by the Federal Council have a right of appeal against decisions made by cantonal and federal authorities regarding planning, construction or modification. However, the right of appeal is limited to installations for which an environmental impact assessment is required.

The National Council is expected to discuss the bill during its special session in April. The Council of States will then be able to comment on it.


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