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26 January 2021

The change of the Distance Act is closer and closer!

Good news come from the official replies given by the Ministry of Economic Development, Labour and Technology (hereafter: Ministry of Development)  and the Ministry of Climate and Environment (hereafter: Ministry of Climate) to a complex parliamentary question from two deputies of the opposition parliamentary club “Kukiz’15”[1]. The interpellation mainly concerned the possibility of using turbines with a vertical axis of rotation in Poland. The deputies also referred to the issue of changing the law in the field of construction of new wind farms. They asked representatives of the Government when an amendment to the Distance Act can be expected and how the provisions on the required distance between power plants and residential buildings will change (abolishing the current 10H criterion).


An amendment before holidays?

In the official reply of the Ministry of Development given by Undersecretary of State Ms Anna Kornacka, at the beginning of January, we see:

The draft changes are at the stage of preparation for public consultation. Earlier, it was subject to inter-ministerial consultations and talks with selected local government authorities of municipalities interested in implementing wind farm investments in their area and municipalities where such facilities already exist. The proposed changes were also consulted with the scientific community, investors, industry and consumer organizations. The Ministry assumes that the amendment to the above-mentioned act will enter into force in the second quarter of 2021.[2]

The Ministry of Climate gives less details on the possible date:

Works on the amendment of this act were undertaken by the Minister of Development, as competent for the administration department – construction… The Ministry of Development assumes that the new regulations will enter into force in 2021. Nevertheless, it should be emphasized that the draft is a subject to ongoing legislative work and may also be subject to further modifications.[3]


The scope of changes – as announced

In addition, the Ministry of Development in the further part of the answer also indicates the scope of the expected amendment:

The project introduces a more flexible approach to the location of wind farms, specifying a minimum distance of 500 m and linking the location distance to the results of the environmental assessment. The draft also provides for the introduction of provisions regulating the technical safety of technical elements of a wind power plant, as well as a delegation to issue a regulation specifying the detailed conditions and requirements to be taken into account when determining, analyzing and assessing the impact of the project on the environment and the population, including human health and living conditions, carried out in relation to wind farms, taking into account the potential occurrence of various types of environmental impacts of wind farms.[2]

The Ministry of Climate and Environment responded in a similar way through the Secretary of State and the Government Plenipotentiary for RES, Mr. Ireneusz Zyska:

… The main assumption of this draft [amendment to the Distance Act] is to leave the general rule of distance to residential buildings determined on the basis of 10 times the height of a wind farm (the so-called 10H rule) as still in force. The proposed change concerns granting the territorially competent commune the possibility to change the local spatial development plan (Local Development Plan), based on the results of the environmental impact forecast, in terms of adopting a wind farm distance from the residential building other than indicated in the general rule, at the same time designating a protection zone in local development plan. This minimum distance could not be less than 500 meters, which results from the ranges of acoustic impact on the surroundings. Similarly, the determined minimum distance would apply to the location of new residential buildings in relation to the existing wind farms. The assumptions of subsequent amendments to the Act concern early and objective information to the local community about the scope of planned investments, as well as strengthening technical supervision over the operation of wind turbines by the Office of Technical Inspection. The Ministry of Economic Development, Labour and Technology assumes that the new regulations will enter into force in 2021.[3]


“Hot” summer for RES industry?

As can be seen, the above positions are consistent with earlier assurances and reports from government representatives in recent weeks. For our part, we hope that the promises will be fulfilled and that the fast legislative path will make the summer “hot” for the industry. However, the past year has clearly shown that anything can happen. The amendment was announced in spring 2020, but the official draft has not yet appeared. The second wave of the pandemic and the disagreement in the coalition resulting in the reconstruction of the government certainly did not help. In the near term it will turn out how it will be this time.

Kamil Koczara
Development Manager

[1] access on 19/01/2021
[2] access on 19/01/2021
[3] access on 19/01/2021