In 1972, the vineyards of Lavaux were facing destruction by a construction project. In response, Franz Weber founded the association “Sauver Lavaux” (“Save Lavaux”), and in February 1973 he launched a popular initiative with the aim of adding a passage to the Vaud Constitution that would afford definitive protection to the entire Lavaux area.
In 1977, the people of Vaud voted in favour of the initiative! The protection of Lavaux was officially inscribed in the canton’s constitution in Article 6b, and the provision was confirmed in 1979 with the “Loi sur le plan de protection de Lavaux” (Lavaux Protection Law).
Yet attempts by the real estate industry to build over the Lavaux, thereby blighting this beautiful region, continued. The “Sauver Lavaux” association was forced to intervene several more times to curtail this.
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When the Vaud Constitution was revised in 2002, Article 6b was repealed. Concrete encroachment began to rear its head in the Lavaux once more. So, Franz Weber devised a second “Sauver Lavaux” initiative, demanding that protection of the area be reintroduced in the constitution. In 2005, the move was accepted by the people of Vaud with 81 per cent of the vote.
However, this was not the end of the story: In 2007, the wine region was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Unfortunately, the listing is not legally binding and only fuelled developers’ appetites. “Sauver Lavaux” launched a legislative initiative in 2009 to achieve stronger legal force, to which the cantonal authorities submitted a counter proposal. On 18 May 2014, the people of Vaud voted in favour of this counter proposal.
The “Sauver Lavaux” association must therefore continue its work monitoring and engaging with local authorities to prevent this unique wine region from falling victim to the greed of the construction companies.
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