The Swiss salt works wanted to drill for salt in the popular Rütihard recreation area near Basel. In contrast, the population went on the barricades. With success: The plans have now been put on hold for at least 20 years.
Controversial salt drilling stopped
With del Zenero-Brunner, numerous users are happy: “Great success, thank you for your efforts and congratulations on this message,” it says. Or: “A first stage won!”. However, some users warn that the Rütihard must be declared a protection zone so that the plans will not be on the table again in 20 years. By Steve Last
“We still can hardly believe it,” writes Vroni del Zenero-Brunner from the “Save the Rütihard” interest group on Facebook. The association has been resisting the planned salt mining in the local recreation area in Muttenz BL for years. It was announced on Tuesday that the Swiss salt pans put the project on hold. “The Rütihard has been saved for at least 20 years!” She rejoices.
The Swiss salt pans belong to the Swiss cantons and Liechtenstein. As reason for the decision, they state regional political uncertainties and delays in planning for the new assisted area. The first exploratory drilling had been carried out for this in 2019.
“Uncertainties and delays”
Due to the intense public discussions about salt mining under the Rütihard, the Citizens’ Council and the Municipal Council of Muttenz had also launched a dialogue process. In their opinion, there was not enough information about the project for careful opinion-making.
The IG “Save the Rütihard” is supported by the Franz Weber Foundation. The opponents fear that salt mining of up to 50 years will cause irreparable damage in this landscape protection area and will destroy a unique recreation area close to the city. The opponents also point to geological risks.
In the meantime, the entrepreneurial risk for the Rütihard project has become too great for the Swiss salt works. The Board of Directors therefore asked management to show how security of supply in Switzerland can be ensured without the Rütihard salt that has been planned so far.
Imports are also an option
After 20 years at most another topic
Various scenarios within and outside of the existing concession areas will be examined in the next few months, as can be seen from the notification. The import of salt is also being considered. However, Switzerland’s supply of salt from domestic production is demonstrably ecologically and economically better, the Swiss salt mines maintain.
In the opinion of Anton Lauber, Basel’s finance director, the Rütihard should remain in the concession area. Lauber stated in the communiqué that the coming generation should be able to assess the advantages and disadvantages of regional salt extraction and production under new circumstances at the earliest in 20 years.
That is why the company is also striving to extend the expiring concession contracts with the cantons of Baselland and Aargau. The previous agreements expire in 2025.
The Swiss salt pans produce up to 600,000 tons of salt annually. The company employs 200 people at its locations in Riburg AG, the Schweizerhalle in Baselbiet and Bex VD.