< Show all posts

Switzerland: Environmental zones against noise

Switzerland wants to impose a driving ban on vehicles with noise levels above 95 decibels. This would affect not only motorbikes, but all types of vehicles. However, it will be some time before a possible ban comes into force. The ban has been widely criticised.

Similar to the noise protection zone in Außerfern in Tyrol in neighbouring Austria, Switzerland wants to take action against loud engines. Especially on popular excursion routes in the foothills of the Alps and the Alps, but also in the Central Plateau, people and nature are excessively disturbed by the loud engines, according to Swiss National Councillor Gabriela Suter (Swiss Social Democratic Party). She wants a ban on vehicles with a stationary noise level above 95 decibels.

Initially, she had faced a lot of headwind when she launched two parliamentary initiatives against noise pollution a year ago. On 21 June, it failed to get a majority for these initiatives at the Commission for the Environment, Spatial Planning and Energy (UREK).

Despite this pushback, it looks like a ban could succeed: In March this year, the Swiss National Council adopted a resolution of the Environment Commission with a clear majority. The proposal, passed by 119 to 65 in the Council, provides for more intensive controls and higher fines, but also the possibility of driving licence revocation and vehicle confiscation. Before the decision could become legally binding, however, it must first pass the Council of States. Then a bill could be drafted, which would have to be waved through again by the Council of States. Until the end of 2022, therefore, there will probably be no noise protection zones in Switzerland.

In the meantime, the opponents of noise protection zones continue to organise themselves. Motorcyclists' associations and initiatives like "Silent Rider" are trying to avert the bans. At least, they are also calling for taking the wind out of the sails of the advocates of the bans by getting bikers to adjust their riding style and be more considerate. Since the motorbike industry is unlikely to develop quieter bikes, it is up to the users to use the vehicles more prudently.

Whether the opponents will succeed, or whether the noise protection model that Außerfern has already successfully introduced will put a stop to the bikers and other noisy vehicles, will become clear in the course of the next year. Certainly, the residents and the environment of the popular excursion routes must be protected somehow. If those responsible do not manage this themselves, the introduction of environmental zones and driving bans is inevitable.