The amendment to the Wind Farm Construction Project Act, now adopted by the Sejm, repeals to some extent the 10 H rule, which was introduced in 2016. This rule placed substantial restrictions on development in Poland of onshore wind farm construction projects. At the moment, a wind farm may not stand within a distance of less than ten times the full height of the wind turbine from a residential building (the 10 H rule). This means that a wind farm cannot be built even within two kilometers of any residential structure.
There is an exception to this rule under the amendment. As a general rule, the distance between a newly-constructed wind farm and a residential building still has to be at least ten times the full height of a wind turbine, but it is permitted for a different distance to be specified in a local zoning plan, while this may not be less than 700 m. The amendment to the Wind Farm Act also provides that the ways in which the minimum distance between 10 H and 700 can be determined include a strategic environmental impact assessment performed as a part of the local zoning plan. In such a case, municipal authorities will not have the option of derogating from the strategic environmental impact assessment. Under the original legislative proposal, the limit was to be 500 m, but was changed to 700 m during readings by a parliamentary committee.
The bill implements a milestone required under the National Recovery Plan (better conditions for developing renewable energy) to release EU funds. It is still not clear how the EC will adjudge the final wording of the act. As the distance required from buildings continues to be significant, this may ultimately not enable wind farms to reach their potential and thus would not ensure that EU emission reduction targets were met.
The bill has now been referred to the Senate. Experts and the industry are hoping that the 500 m rule will be reinstated, otherwise there will still be severe restrictions on building new wind farms. The government and supporters of the bill have pointed out that it is a just compromise between the proposals made by investors and the community.