The Act on Reducing Certain Administrative Burdens in the Economy of 16 November 2012 seeking to eliminate or limit some of the onerous and redundant administrative burdens came into force on 1 January 2013. The enacted amendments relate among others to the provisions of the Environment Protection Law of 27 April 2001 and obligations imposed on entities affecting the natural environment.
Under the previously effective regulations, an entity whose operations affected the natural environment was required to assess its own environmental charge and effect its payment to the account of the relevant Marshal’s Office by the end of the month immediately following each half-year period. The above obligation was closely linked with the requirement to submit to the Regional Marshal, Regional Environmental Inspector and, in the case of the waste storage charge, to the relevant head of municipality or town/city mayor information based on which the entity’s assessment of the charge payable could be verified.
The above amendment extended the environmental charge reconciliation period. Under the new wording of the Environment Protection Law, an entity whose operations affect the environment is required to effect payment of environmental charges for the relevant calendar year by 31 March 2013. Further, the amendment limits the reporting obligation imposed upon entities whose operations affect the environment solely to the submission of information to the Regional Marshal. Under the new regime, the Regional Marshal is required to pass on the information received to the Regional Environmental Inspector and, in the case of the waste storage charge, to the relevant head of municipality or town/city mayor. In other words, the obligation to distribute the information about the entity’s effect on the environment has been partly taken over by the public administration authorities.
Other regulations, linked closely to the above provisions, were also amended. Under the new law, the entity whose operations affect the natural environment is required to update annually the records containing information on the effect on the environment to the extent of the data impacting the assessment of the environmental charge payable by the relevant entity. Under the previous regulations, the above records were updated semi-annually, by the respective deadline for payment of environmental charges. Similarly, the provision on exemptions from environmental charges were also revised. Under the law as it previously stood, the obligation to effect environmental charges did not apply if their semiannual value was under PLN 400. Under the new statute, since the reconciliation of environmental charges is annual, the environmental charges do not apply if their annual value is under PLN 800.
While the amendment to the Environment Protection Law is hardly revolutionary, it is a step in the direction of limiting the administrative obligations imposed on entities whose operations impact the natural environment. One can only hope that legislators will take further efforts to simplify the current procedures. It seems that more amendments to the law are likely since—as indicated in the rationale for the above statute—the legislators are well aware that administrative barriers hindering the development of enterprise are still part of the regulatory environment.