Europe

Swiss church bells can chime again at night, says court

A general view shows the Protestant Reformed Church in Wädenswil, Switzerland December 13, 2017. Image copyright Reuters
Image caption The Protestant Reformed Church in Wädenswil, Switzerland

A Swiss church can once again ring its bells throughout the night after a federal court overturned a legal decision to limit them to hourly peals.

The restriction was ordered in 2015 after a local couple complained about clangs between 22:00 and 07:00.

The 250-year-old Protestant church in Wädenswil, near Zurich, agreed to stop ringing the bells every 15 minutes.

But more than 2,000 residents campaigned against the decision, taking the dispute to the federal court .

The court, in Lausanne, overturned the earlier ruling on Wednesday, saying that reducing the number of night-time chimes would not have a significant effect on quality of life.

It also said that the nightly clanging was a part of Wädenswil's culture and local tradition, rejecting the result of a study that found the noise of the bells was loud enough to be disruptive if residents left their windows slightly open.

"We are delighted with this decision, not just for us, but for the town and the whole community," said Peter Meier, a member of the church's council.

"The bells are an important part of the town's feeling of home, and have long given a rhythm to people's lives here."

The couple behind the original complaint, who live around 200m from the church, were less impressed with the ruling. Alfred Naef said he and his wife were horrified that the bells could start ringing again more frequently.

However, Mr Meier cited an independent survey that found that 79% of residents said they were not disturbed by the bells.

"We are celebrating the church's 250th anniversary this year, and this is a very nice present to not have this hanging over us any more," he said.

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