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Swiss parliament takes first step in nuclear opt-out

BERN – The Swiss government has won approval from a majority of the House of Representatives for a proposed gradual withdrawal from nuclear energy, swissinfo.ch reported. The house called on the cabinet to remove administrative hurdles for renewable energy projects and promote research in this field. But it also wants to curb the right of environmental groups to block the construction of wind- and hydro-power plants. All the decisions taken in Wednesday’s marathon debate still have to be confirmed by the Senate at a later stage. It could take several years before the necessary legal amendments have been discussed by parliament. Voters are also likely to have a say on the issue at the ballot box.

Two weeks ago the cabinet decided to decommission Switze­rland’s five nuclear power reactors by 2034, once they reach the end of their lifespan. It announced its intention to boost renewable energy resources and promote energy saving methods instead of building new nuclear power plants.

The move comes after Ger­many announced plans to gradually shut down all 17 of the country’s nuclear power plants by 2022 and accelerate investment in renewable energy supplies, in response to Japan’s Fukushima nuclear disaster.

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