Land use is strictly governed in Switzerland. However, a new initiative, which aims to increase construction restrictions further, recently gathered enough signatures to qualify for a a popular vote.
The initiative, dubbed the countryside initiative, was officially registered after gathering 104,487 valid signatures, more than the 100,000 that must be collected within 100 days to qualify for a referendum.
The federal law on land management (LAT/RPG), an earlier land management legal change accepted by referendum by 62.9% of Swiss voters in 2012, is not strict enough according to the initiators of this initiative. In particular it leaves cantons and communes too much wiggle room and is too focused on managing constructible land, they argue.
Pro Natura, BirdLife Suisse, Patrimoine Suisse and the Swiss Foundation for the Protection of the Countryside said that last year more than 2,000 new buildings were built on non-constructible land, of which 400 were new homes.
The new initiative is more focused on preventing construction on land designated as non-constructible than the existing law.
More specifically, no new buildings would be allowed on non constructible land unless they were necessary for agriculture or some other important reason. Agricultural buildings would not be allowed to be converted into housing or non-agricultural business buildings and no land containing agricultural buildings would be allowed to be reassigned to non-agricultural use. Furthermore, non-agricultural buildings could not be extended.