Valais mega-resort project stalled by Swiss high court

Artist's rendering, Aminona luxury resort, now on hold

LAUSANNE, SWITZERLAND – The CHF500 million Aminona Luxury Resort project has been put on ice for now by the Swiss Federal Tribunal after a last-minute appeal from environmental groups was accepted. The canton Valais high court in August refused to accept the groups’ objections to the project.

The high court also ruled Monday against the company behind the project, which was asking for a CHF5 million deposit from the environmental groups to offset costs linked to the delay.

The project would create a large resort in Aminona, next to Crans-Montana, with a five-star hotel, 32 chalets, five towers and luxury services. The complete project would have 2,500 beds.

The tribunal accepted the arguments by three groups, WWF, Patrimoine Suisse and the Fondation suisse pour la protection et l’aménagement du paysage (Swiss Foundation for Landscape Conservation). The court notes in its decision that the site of the new resort is in a stretch of dry prairie which is provisionally on the federal list of dry prairies and pastures of national importance.

The court ruled that starting construction could cause “irreparable damage” to the dry prairies, and they must benefit from “provisional preventive protection”.

ATS (TSR, Fre) reports that the court is unlikely to rule before January on the basic right of the project to go ahead.

The project has faced  hurdles from the start. It calls for three construction phases, and one of the arguments of the environmental groups is that this division of the project into smaller parts has allowed the backers to avoid presenting a coherent overall plan to competent authorities.

The first phase, to build 10 towers on the eastern side of the project, prompted a temporary ban on construction to allow time to review the impact of such dense construction. The ban was lifted by the cantonal council in the summer of 2010, then confirmed by the cantonal court in August 2011.  Phases 2 and 3, to build 45 chalets and a number of towers, lag behind in the approval process.

The environmental groups also argue that the scale of the project is out of tune with the times and that with 70,000 “cold beds” or unused hotel, apartments and chalets, it makes little sense to build such a large number of new places.

History of the Village Royal Aminona Luxury Resort project, GenevaLunch:

Aminona resort takes on green tint, September 2010

Aminona Russian Alpine resort faces WWF opposition, December 2009

 

 

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