Polish president signs wind turbine law in bid to unlock EU funds
President Andrzej Duda has signed an amended wind turbine law which could help Poland access currently frozen EU recovery funds despite the industry and environmental NGOs viewing it as insufficient.
Under the current law, building wind farms within a distance of 10 times the height of a turbine from residential buildings was prohibited under a law passed in 2016.
With the amendment already signed by the president, the minimum distance between wind turbines and residential buildings is now 700 metres, Presidential aide Malgorzata Paprocka confirmed to the Polish Press Agency (PAP).
The 700-metre rule is a compromise solution between the ‘10 times rule’ and the 500-metre limit previously floated by the government and demanded by the wind energy lobby, the bill’s author, Marek Suski of the ruling Law and Justice (PiS, ECR) party has said.
However, the onshore wind industry and environment experts believe 700 metres to be too much.
“The solution is insufficient and only to a little extent does it remedy the problem that PiS caused in 2016 by passing the ‘10H law’. A chance to repair that mistake was spoiled by Marek Suski and other ruling camp’s lawmakers,” Mikołaj Gumulski, environment campaign coordinator at Greenpeace Poland, told EURACTIV.pl.
Under the amendment, the areas potentially available for wind farms are half of what could be made available under the 500-metre scenario, according to Greenpeace Poland which cites a study conducted by the Ambiens consulting company.
Investments in wind technologies will also drop 70% as a result of the new bill, since most of the projects that are waiting for implementation were prepared with the 500 metres draft bill in mind, according to Instrat.
“The bill signed by the president does not allow the potential of wind energy to develop in Poland, which would enable cheaper and safer access to renewable energy. This will affect both the Polish citizens and the economy,” Gumulski said.
The amended law is one of 37 milestones Poland has to fulfil to obtain access to the EU recovery fund which the European Commission continues to withhold from Warsaw owing to a long-running dispute over the rule of law.
It appears, however, the Commission has doubts over whether the wind turbine law would meet the conditions it agreed with the Polish government, reported Rzeczpospolita, citing its EU sources.