Swiss anti-nuclear polls win go-ahead

Federal chancellery approves two referendum bids that have achieved 100,000 signatures

Switzerland's federal chancellery has approved two popular initiatives which propose amendments to Swiss nuclear law, after each gathered the 100,000 signatures required to spark a nationwide referendum. The nuclear-free power initiative seeks a shift in energy policy away from nuclear with decommissioning of Switzerland's five nuclear power stations starting two yaers after the referendum. The nuclear moratorium initiative aims to extend a current ban on building new nuclear plant by ten years to 2010. Meanwhile the Swiss energy ministry is drawing up a new nuclear law which will go into consultation in January with stakeholders. Energy ministry spokesperson Adrian Luethi told ENDS Daily today that he could not yet say what was in the draft because "there is still fighting in the government". The social democrat energy minister, Moritz Leuenberger, is widely believed to want to limit the service life of existing nuclear stations, which have been in service for 15 to 30 years, to 40 or possibly 50 years. However, five out of seven ministers are not social democrats and are unlikely to support this view according to the Mr Luethi. In the unlikely event of the new law satisfying the demands of the initiatives, they would be withdrawn. Far more likely is that a counter proposal will be offered by the government and that some time in the next year or two, the population of Switzerland will have the opportunity to vote on both proposals.

Follow Up:
Swiss federal chancellery, e-mail: ; Swiss energy ministry, tel: +41 31 322 5611.

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