Amendments to the Regulation of the Council of Ministers of 9 November 2010 on types of projects likely to have significant effect on the environment (Journal of Laws No 213, item 1397) (hereinafter as “the Regulation”) entered into force on 1st August 2013.

The Regulation sets forth a list of projects for which an environmental decision is required. These projects are divided into two groups: projects likely to always have significant effects on the environment (and, thus, automatically requiring an EIA) and projects likely to potentially have significant effect on the environment (which will require an EIA only if the authority decides so).

Below we present the most important changes resulting from the amendment to the Regulation.

The new types of projects likely to always have significant effect on the environment include:

  • installations for the capture of carbons dioxide;
  • installations for the transfer of carbon dioxide for underground storage (with an outer diameter of no less than 800 mm and no less than 40 km in length) along with the accompanying compressors and reduction stations;
  • installations for the underground storage of carbon dioxide.

The new types of projects likely to potentially have significant effects on the environment include:

  • seeking for carbon dioxide underground storage facilities;
  • smaller installations for the capture of carbons dioxide;
  • the construction of photovoltaic systems along with their auxiliary infrastructure.

Other changes:

  • installations for the surface treatment of substances, objects and products using organic solvents will require an EIA only if the authority decides so, regardless of volume of solvents consumption;
  • installations for the collection or reloading of waste (other than scrap) will no longer require an environmental decision;
  • the exploration of mineral deposits connected with geological works and the use of explosives will no longer require an environmental decision.

Important changes for the shale gas industry:

  • the exploration of mineral deposits by means of wells to a depth between 1000 m and 5000 m will require environmental decision only if the exploration is performed:
  • in the water intake protection area,
  • in the inland water reservoirs protection area,
  • in some nature protection areas and their buffer zones;
  • the exploration of mineral deposits by means of wells deeper than 5000 m will always require obtaining an environmental decision.

Important changes for the real estate market:

  • it is now clearer when garages require environmental decision;
  • it is now more precisely specified when the extension, reconstruction or assembly of a project will require an environmental decision;
  • changes in projects which are not related to the reconstruction, extension or assembly of projects will require obtaining another environmental decision if the given change results in the need to modify the environmental conditions imposed by the previous environmental decision – this is a completely new notion in the Regulation, which, in our opinion, will give rise to problems with its interpretation.