Switzerland 1999 Constitution (reviewed 2014)

Table of Contents

Section 4. Environment and Spatial Planning

Article 73. Sustainable development

The Confederation and the Cantons shall endeavour to achieve a balanced and sustainable relationship between nature and its capacity to renew itself and the demands placed on it by the population.

Article 74. Protection of the environment

  1. The Confederation shall legislate on the protection of the population and its natural environment against damage or nuisance.
  2. It shall ensure that such damage or nuisance is avoided. The costs of avoiding or eliminating such damage or nuisance are borne by those responsible for causing it.
  3. The Cantons are responsible for the implementation of the relevant federal regulations, except where the law reserves this duty for the Confederation.

Article 75. Spatial planning

  1. The Confederation shall lay down principles on spatial planning. These principles are binding on the Cantons and serve to ensure the appropriate and economic use of the land and its properly ordered settlement.
  2. The Confederation shall encourage and coordinate the efforts of the Cantons and shall cooperate with them.
  3. Confederation and Cantons shall take account of the requirements of spatial planning in fulfilling their duties.

Article 75a. National Land Survey

  1. The National Land Survey is the responsibility of the Confederation.
  2. The Confederation shall issue regulations on official surveying.
  3. It may issue regulations on the harmonisation of official information relating to the land.

Article 75b. Second homes

  1. No more than 20 per cent of the total stock of residential units and the gross residential floor area in any commune may be used as second homes.
  2. The law shall require communes to publish their first home percentage plan and a detailed report on its implementation every year.

Article 76. Water

  1. The Confederation shall within the scope of its powers ensure the economic use and the protection of water resources and provide protection against the harmful effects of water.
  2. It shall lay down principles on the conservation and exploitation of water resources, the use of water for the production of energy and for cooling purposes, as well as on other measures affecting the water-cycle.
  3. It shall legislate on water protection, on ensuring appropriate residual flow, on hydraulic engineering and the safety of dams, and on measures that influence precipitation.
  4. The Cantons shall manage their water resources. They may levy charges for the use of water, subject to the limits imposed by federal legislation. The Confederation has the right to use water for its transport operations subject to payment of a charge and compensation.
  5. The Confederation, in consultation with the Cantons concerned, shall decide on rights to international water resources and the charges for them. If Cantons are unable to agree on rights to intercantonal water resources, the Confederation shall decide.
  6. The Confederation shall take account of the concerns of the Cantons where the water originates in fulfilling its duties.

Article 77. Forests

  1. The Confederation shall ensure that the forests are able to fulfil their protective, commercial and public amenity functions.
  2. It shall lay down principles on the protection of the forests.
  3. It shall encourage measures for the conservation of the forests.

Article 78. Protection of natural and cultural heritage

  1. The protection of natural and cultural heritage is the responsibility of the Cantons.
  2. In the fulfilment of its duties, the Confederation shall take account of concerns for the protection of natural and cultural heritage. It shall protect the countryside and places of architectural, historical, natural or cultural interest; it shall preserve such places intact if required to do so in the public interest.
  3. It may support efforts made for the protection of natural and cultural heritage and acquire or preserve properties of national importance by contract or through compulsory purchase.
  4. It shall legislate on the protection of animal and plant life and on the preservation of their natural habitats and their diversity. It shall protect endangered species from extinction.
  5. Moors and wetlands of special beauty and national importance shall be preserved. No buildings may be built on them and no changes may be made to the land, except for the construction of facilities that serve the protection of the moors or wetlands or their continued use for agricultural purposes.

Article 79. Fishing and hunting

The Confederation shall lay down principles on fishing and hunting and in particular on the preservation of the diversity of fish species, wild mammals and birds.

Article 80. Protection of animals

  1. The Confederation shall legislate on the protection of animals.
  2. It shall in particular regulate:
    1. the keeping and care of animals;
    2. experiments on animals and procedures carried out on living animals;
    3. the use of animals;
    4. the import of animals and animal products;
    5. the trade in animals and the transport of animals;
    6. the slaughter of animals.
  3. The enforcement of the regulations is the responsibility of the Cantons, except where the law reserves this to the Confederation.

Section 5. Public Construction Works and Transport

Article 81. Public Construction Works

The Confederation may in the interests of the country as a whole or a large part of it carry out and operate public construction works, or provide support for such construction works.

Article 82. Road transport

  1. The Confederation shall legislate on road transport.
  2. It shall exercise supervisory control over roads of national importance; it may decide which transit roads must remain open to traffic.
  3. Public roads may be used free of charge. The Federal Assembly may authorise exceptions.

Article 83. National roads

  1. The Confederation shall ensure the construction of a network of motorways and shall guarantee that they remain useable.
  2. The Confederation shall construct, operate and maintain the national roads. It bears the costs thereof. It may assign this task wholly or partly to public or private bodies or combined public-private bodies.
  3. [Repealed by the popular vote on 28 Nov 2004, in force since 1 Jan. 2008]

Article 84. Alpine transit traffic

  1. The Confederation shall protect the Alpine region from the negative effects of transit traffic. It shall limit the nuisance caused by transit traffic to a level that is not harmful to people, animals and plants or their habitats.
  2. Transalpine goods traffic shall be transported from border to border by rail. The Federal Council shall take the measures required. Exceptions are permitted only when there is no alternative. They must be specified in detail in a federal act.
  3. The capacity of the transit routes in the Alpine region may not be increased. This does not apply to by-pass roads that reduce the level of transit traffic in towns and villages.

Article 85. Heavy vehicle charge

  1. The Confederation may levy a capacity or mileage-related charge on heavy vehicle traffic where such traffic creates public costs that are not covered by other charges or taxes.
  2. The net revenue from the charge shall be used to cover the costs incurred in connection with the road traffic.
  3. The Cantons are entitled to a share of the net revenue. In the assessment of the shares allocated, the particular consequences that levying the charge have for mountainous and remote regions shall be taken into account.

Article 86. Consumption tax on motor fuels and other traffic taxes

    1. The Confederation may levy a consumption tax on motor fuels.
    2. It shall levy a charge for the use of the motorways by motor vehicles and trailers that are not liable to pay the heavy vehicle charge.
    3. It shall use half of the net proceeds from the consumption tax on all motor fuels, with the exception of aircraft fuels, and the net revenue from the motorways charge for the following tasks and costs in connection with road traffic:
      1. the construction, maintenance and operation of motorways;
      2. measures to encourage combined transport and the transport of motor vehicles and drivers;
      3. measures to improve the transport infrastructure in cities and urban areas;
      4. contributions towards the cost of main roads;
      5. contributions towards protective structures to prevent natural disasters and measures to protect the environment and countryside from the effects of road traffic;
      6. general contributions towards the costs incurred by the Cantons for roads open to motor vehicles
      7. contributions to Cantons without motorways.


It shall use half of the net proceeds from the consumption tax on aircraft fuels for the following tasks and costs in connection with air traffic:

    1. contributions towards environmental protection measures made necessary by air traffic;
    2. contributions towards security measures to protect against unlawful acts against air traffic, and in particular against terrorist attacks and the hijacking of aircraft, insofar as such measures are not the responsibility of national authorities;
    3. contributions towards measures to ensure a high technical level of safety in air traffic.
  1. If these resources are insufficient for the tasks and costs in connection with road and air traffic, then the Confederation shall levy a surcharge on the consumption tax on the fuels concerned.

Article 87. Railways and other modes of transport

The legislation on rail transport, cableways, shipping, aviation and space travel is the responsibility of the Confederation.

Article 88. Footpaths and hiking trails

  1. The Confederation shall lay down principles with regard to the network of footpaths and hiking trails.
  2. It may support and coordinate cantonal measures to construct and maintain such networks.
  3. It shall take account of the network of footpaths and hiking trails in the fulfilment of its duties and shall replace paths and trails that it has to close.