Bern Minster forced to turn its lights back on to avoid planes crashing into it

Bern Minster forced to turn its lights back on to avoid planes crashing into it

Just one week after announcing that Bern Minster would be turning its lights off at night, to help save electricity during the energy crisis, authorities have been forced to turn the lights back on to avoid planes crashing into it when arriving and departing from the local airport.

Planes could crash into the unlit tower in Bern

While the policy was solely designed to help save energy during the winter, the announcement that Bern's Minster would be switching its lights off at night caused significant alarm for the Federal Office of Civil Aviation. As the cathedral is located on the final approach to Bern-Belp Airport, authorities were concerned that planes coming in to land at or taking off from the runway might not be able to see the cathedral’s spire, which could cause a crash. 

Initially, the plan submitted by the local authorities would have seen all of Bern’s public and historical sites turn off their lights to save energy, but the cathedral will now be an exception. All the other public and historic buildings in Bern will continue to keep their lights off. 

Some in Switzerland are concerned about safety in the dark

While many businesses and cities are doing their part to reduce their energy consumption, tension is growing between energy-saving and public safety. Some people, especially older people in Switzerland, are now expressing concern about the darkness in Swiss cities this winter which will be caused by energy-saving measures.

Vereinigten Altstadtleisten, an interest group for trade and residents in Bern's old town, told Swiss broadcaster SRF that more people in the city are becoming concerned about their safety at night time, now that the lights of department stores and monuments are switched off.

Local State Councillor Heidi Z'graggen told SRF that "the brightness contributes a lot to the sense of security - especially for women and maybe also for older people." While the importance of saving energy this season is not to be understated, SRF noted that the growing concerns in a number of Swiss cantons could soon cause local authorities to reconsider.

Emily Proctor


Emily Proctor

Emily grew up in the UK before moving abroad to study International Relations and Chinese. She then obtained a Master's degree in International Security and gained an interest in journalism....

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