Switzerland votes to phase out nuclear power

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Two men stand facing the cooling tower of the nuclear power plant of Goesgen from the city of Aarau, SwitzerlandImage source, AFP
Image caption,
The phase-out was first proposed by the government in 2011

Switzerland has voted to phase out nuclear power in favour of renewable energy.

More than 58% backed the move towards greener power sources in a referendum on Sunday.

Switzerland has five ageing nuclear power plants, which provide a third of the country's energy needs.

There is no date yet to decommission the facilities, but the country will now aim to increase reliance on sources like solar, wind and hydro power.

Opponents had warned the move away from nuclear energy would cost too much money and lead to the landscape being "disfigured".

But the president of Switzerland's Green party, Regula Rytz, hailed the vote as a "moment of historic change".

Image source, AFP
Image caption,
Voters backed the move in a referendum, despite warnings from the "no" campaign it would cost too much

"The Swiss population has said 'no' to the construction of new nuclear power plants and yes to the development of renewable energy," she added. "The conditions have also been set whereby the economy and households will need to take responsibility for the future.

"It's absolutely magnificent."

The Swiss government first proposed phasing out nuclear energy in favour of renewables after Japan's Fukushima plant was destroyed in a tsunami in 2011.

The vote now paves the way for them to move ahead with the plan, beginning in January 2018.

However, a referendum which asked if people wanted to limit the nuclear plants lifespan to 45 years failed to get enough support in November.