After three months in the Sejm – the lower house of the Polish Parliament – on 25 May 2016 the Act on wind turbine investments (the “Act”) was passed to the Senate. The controversies in this relatively short act pertain to the conditions of location, construction and operation of wind farms. During parliamentary works, some mitigating amendments were introduced to the strict provisions in the first version of the Act. At the same time, works on important amendments to the Renewable Energy Sources Act are pending at the Energy and State Treasury Committee in the Sejm.
Firstly, according to the Act, a wind turbine (along with its foundation, tower and technical elements) will constitute a building in the meaning of the Construction Law. This change may lead to a significant increase of the amount of real estate tax to be paid by wind farm operators.
Furthermore, as was already proposed in the first version of the Act, the location of the wind farm will have to be designated in the local zoning plan, which has to set out the total maximum height of a wind turbine.
The provision on the distance between the wind turbine and households or mixed purpose buildings should be equal or higher than ten times the total height of the wind turbine has not been changed despite being heavily criticized by the wind farm industry. In relation to operating wind farms, only repair works and necessary works are allowed – any actions aiming at increasing the productivity of a wind farm are excluded.
Furthermore, according to the Act building permits issued before the Act’s entry into force will remain valid, provided that within three years from the Act entering into force a permit for use of the wind farm is issued. If such a permit is not obtained within the aforementioned period, the constructed building will be demolished by the provincial supervisory authority.
Lastly, the provisions on obtaining an operational permit and provisions stipulating fines for failure, which have been proposed in the first version of the Act, have been removed from the Act. It should also be added that the Act on wind turbine investments will not apply to offshore wind generators. Once the Act is adopted (approved by the Senate and then signed by the President), it will enter into force 14 days from the date of publication.