The Swiss Times - Swiss News in English

National Council also wants apartments near noisy roads and airports

The National Council wants to make it easier to build housing in areas where noise emission limits have been exceeded. When discussing amendments to the Environmental Protection Act, it decided to go less far than the Council of States, but further than the Federal Council, Left-Greens and GLP.

On Monday, the Council approved a formulation proposed by its preliminary advisory committee, which committee spokesperson Nicolò Paganini (center/SG) described as "extended ventilation window practice". This would achieve a "balance between inner densification and noise protection", the committee said in advance.

Specifically, building permits for apartments in Switzerland in areas where the noise immission limit value is exceeded should be permitted in future under the following conditions: at least one noise-sensitive room in each residential unit has a window that complies with the limit values.

In addition, controlled ventilation must be installed in the other rooms or a private outdoor space must be available that complies with the noise limits.

Alternatively, building permits are possible if at least half of the noise-sensitive rooms in each residential unit have a window that complies with the immission limit values and the noise protection is tightened in an appropriate and economically proportionate manner.

In December, for example, the Council of States argued that residential construction should also be possible if the noise-sensitive rooms in a home are simply equipped with controlled ventilation.

Back in the Council of States due to differences

A minority in the National Council wanted the so-called ventilation window practice of the Association of Towns and Cities to be applied in principle. According to this practice, residential construction in areas with excessive noise is possible if each residential unit has a window in every noise-sensitive room that complies with the immission limits.

The Federal Council also wanted to enshrine the practice of ventilation windows in law. On Monday, Federal Councillor Albert Rösti spoke of a simple and clear rule that offers a compromise between the expansion of residential construction activity and noise protection.

The National Council approved the bill in the overall vote by 119 votes to 67 with six abstentions. The votes in favor of the "extended ventilation practice" came from the SVP, FDP and partly the center faction, while the SP, Greens and GLP were against.

GLP spokesperson Beat Flach (AG) criticized the "extended ventilation practice" as impractical. Bastien Girod (Greens/ZH) said that the proposal would lead to more noisy homes and more homes that make people ill. As there are now differences between the National Council and the Council of States, the bill will go back to the Council of States.

National Council doubles down on 30/50 km/h

On Monday, the National Council also adopted a motion by the Schaffhausen SVP National Councillor Thomas Hurter, who wants to stipulate in the Environmental Protection Act: "The reduction of the general speed limit cannot be demanded on traffic-oriented roads."

The National Council thus doubled down on the dispute over speed reductions in urban areas to reduce noise. Just last Wednesday, the Council of States approved a motion calling on the Federal Council to amend the Road Traffic Act in line with Hurter's proposal.

The National Council also adopted a motion for the creation of a new special noise limit in the vicinity of airports. It originates from an SVP/FDP minority of the National Council's preliminary consultation committee and aims to enable inward settlement development despite aircraft noise pollution in areas close to the airport.

The Swiss Homeowners' Association welcomed the National Council's decisions in a press release as an "important step in the right direction". Gabriela Suter (SP/AG) already threatened a referendum during the entry debate if the councillors went too far.

Accelerating the remediation of contaminated sites

Another of the Federal Council's main objectives in revising the law is to speed up the remediation of contaminated sites. It wants to create incentives to ensure that public and private soils are remediated as quickly as possible. Children's playgrounds in particular could be contaminated by previous soil fertilization and air pollution.

In this regard, the National Council decided that the cantons should be able to provide financial support to the owners of these places under certain conditions. The Council of States did not want this.


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