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Swiss ban on foreign lorries

Swiss voters yesterday approved a hard-fought proposal to protect the Alps by banning foreign lorries from crossing the country by road from the year 2004, Reuter reports from Zurich. The Alp Initiative, which now becomes law after being approved in a referendum, also bans the construction of new roads if they are intended to boost traffic capacity.

It aims to preserve the Alps from pollution by the thousands of freight trucks that roar across the country, and requires that they be hauled by rail. The decision will have a profound effect on freight hauliers, since the shortest route between Germany and Italy is via the St Gotthard Pass. It will also worsen relations between Switzerland and its EU neighbours but, under Switzerland's system of direct democracy, the people's decision in a plebiscite is final.