Mixed messages from Swiss upper house

30 September 2011

Politicians in Switzerland's upper house have called for a ban on new nuclear construction projects, at least for the time being, in the latest vote on a possible phaseout of nuclear power in the country.


The Council of States, the upper house of the Swiss parliament, has voted overwhelmingly in favour of proposals that no construction permits be granted for new nuclear plants, but also that no technology should be banned and that Switzerland should continue to carry out "training, education and research" in all energy techniques, including nuclear. The Swiss parliament would also keep a watching brief over developments and innovations in nuclear technology.


Existing nuclear power plants that fail to meet safety standards would be shut down immediately under the proposed law. The proposals also call for the development of a future energy policy not reliant on nuclear, and to encourage the use of renewable energy and energy efficiency measures.
Each of the three main motions forming the proposals was passed by a majority of around three-to-one.
Proposals to ban construction of new nuclear power plants were originally drawn up by the Swiss cabinet in May, in the aftermath of the Fukushima nuclear accident. The lower house, the National Council, has already voted in favour of the measures. Amended proposals by a parliamentary committee, the Council for the Environment, Spatial Planning and Energy (CESPE), drawn up for consideration by the Council of States, had limited the construction ban to current-generation nuclear power plants. That wording was removed from the motions after debate in the Council.
Introducing the proposals to the Council of States on behalf of the CESPE, Senator Filippo Lombardi counselled that his political successors could well see things differently. Even if the council decided to ban the construction of nuclear power plants for infinity, he noted, that would not stop parliament "in twenty years" reconsidering the situation and adapting the law accordingly.
The proposed legislation will now return to the lower house for a new debate and vote.


Researched and written

by World Nuclear News