Monday 5 December 2016

Swiss cowbells should be seen and not herd

Justin Huggler in Berlin

Published 12/08/2015 | 02:30

The case centres on a tiny hamlet of eight houses in the Zurich Oberland, where residents complained about the noise when the local farmer brought his cattle down from their Alpine pastures.
The case centres on a tiny hamlet of eight houses in the Zurich Oberland, where residents complained about the noise when the local farmer brought his cattle down from their Alpine pastures.

A farmer in Switzerland has been ordered to remove traditional cowbells from his herd because they are keeping his neighbours awake at night.

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The tinkle of cowbells is as much a national symbol as chocolate and watches, and has been described as the "soundtrack of the Alps" by the national tourist board.

However, Switzerland is also famous for some of the strictest noise regulations in the world.

In many areas, it is forbidden to take a shower after 10pm in case the sound disturbs the neighbours.

Now a court in the canton of Zurich has ordered that even the sound of cowbells cannot be allowed to disturb a Swiss citizen's right to a perfect night's sleep.

The case centres on a tiny hamlet of eight houses in the Zurich Oberland, where residents complained about the noise when the local farmer brought his cattle down from their Alpine pastures.

The bells were not necessary when the cows were kept in an enclosed pasture next to the farmer's house, the residents argued.

The local council agreed, and imposed a night ban, but the farmer fought the case all the way to the courts.

Emissions

In Switzerland, nothing is done by half measures and the court duly sent a team of experts to examine the sound levels.

"Even at a distance of 80 metres there are very loud sound emissions," the judge wrote in his ruling.

A study by animal rights activists last year found the cowbells emit 100 to 113 decibels - around the same volume as a chainsaw.

Animal Rights activists called for a ban on the bells, arguing that constant exposure to such loud noise could cause the cows hearing loss.

That campaign was rejected both by farmers, and by the tourist board.

However, when it comes to the Swiss getting a good night's sleep, it seems that not even the cowbell is sacred.

Irish Independent

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