Administrative law

The amendment to the Act on providing information on the environment and its protection, public participation in environmental protection and on environmental impact assessments is awaiting the signature of the President of the Republic of Poland

It is likely that the provisions of amendment to the act on providing information on the environment and its protection, public participation in environmental protection and on environmental impact assessments (EIA Act) and some other acts will probably enter into force at the end of the summer holidays. According to the media, the Sejm has adopted the bill at an express pace, and on August 2, 2019, legislative work was completed. Currently, the amendment is waiting only for the signature of the President of the Republic of Poland.

It is worth recalling that the purpose of the proposed changes was primarily to streamline administrative procedures and proceedings, both on the side of investors and entities preparing documents subject to strategic environmental assessment.

In the opinion of the Ombudsman, however, the solutions contained in the bill raise many doubts as to compliance with EU and international law, which may result in the possibility that the European Commission may initiate proceedings in the future.

The most objectionable issue is the provision which changes the definition of the investment impact area that will affect the project, introducing into the EIA Act a distance criterion from the boundaries of the area where the project will be implemented. As a result, it was proposed that the area affected by the project should be determined according to the fixed distance criterion of 100 m adopted in this project and according to the criterion determined individually based on the nature of the impact of the planned project. This will cause radical changes in determining the number of parties to the proceedings.

As a result, the owner of a house, which is adjacent to an often problematic investment, i.e. a piggery, shed or landfill, will not be allowed to participate in proceedings aimed at issuing a decision on environmental conditions. This solution will be a great help for entrepreneurs, however, it will be a serious problem for residents neighboring with such investments.

There are also some doubts in the provisions of the project according to which persons and institutions which did not participate in the proceedings through their own fault would not have the right to demand resumption of the proceedings.

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