Legislation proposed by Poland’s new government facilitates the expansion of wind turbines in the country, it contains clauses that could make it much easier for Germans to buy Polish land. These have been added to a bill to freeze electricity prices.
Robert Telus, a Member of Parliament (“MP”) for the outgoing ruling conservative Law and Justice Party (“PiS”) and former agriculture minister, said that the proposed legislation is dangerous for rural areas because it makes the purchase of land easier, which could, in turn, allow Germans to buy up Polish farmland and convert it into wind farms.
He said he believes that the legislative proposal is an example of Donald Tusk’s Civic Coalition (“KO”) doing the bidding of German lobbyists.
The incoming government of a coalition of pro-European parties, led by former European Council President Donald Tusk, plans to transition the country from coal to up to 70% of energy production from “renewable” sources by 2030.
Last year about 15% of Poland’s energy came from wind and solar. Poland has one of Europe’s highest energy prices as it produces around 70% of its electricity from coal. Coal has become more costly due to the cost of carbon emissions, one of the effects of Europe’s carbon-emissions trading scheme.
A legislative proposal introduced into parliament on 30 November by MPs from Poland 2050 and KO, the new coalition government, extends the energy price freeze and includes provisions significantly loosening restrictions on the building of wind farms in Poland. If the legislation passes, wind turbines will be able to be placed as close as 300 meters from domestic buildings.
However, the proposed legislation and associated funding have been dubbed the “Windmill Scandal” by its opponents.
The proposal changes the permitted noise level for wind projects and would allow turbines to be built about 300 meters from the nearest housing, down from about 700 meters under the current rules. It would also allow wind power closer to national parks and nature reserves.
“Without consultations, without analyses, without preparation, KO and Poland 2050 politicians want to install large turbines next to Poles’ homes,” tweeted Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki. “Who will lose out? The Polish people. Who will benefit? Lobbyists.”
The proposal also seeks to make wind power investments – or any renewable investment larger than 1 megawatt in installed capacity – “investments of public purpose,” which PiS says would allow for the expropriation of land owners.
Sławek Wodzyński, co-founder of the Basta Foundation which is a non-governmental organisation that monitors the media and politicians, said that the bill would allow “expropriation of private persons for the purpose of building wind power plants and other [renewable] investments, as [such] investments will be considered a public goal.” He called the proposed change “a serious interference with property rights and citizens’ rights.”
“If you don’t like it, or if some investor, probably foreign, falls in love with your plot of land you will be able to be expropriated to put up wind turbines there,” added Sebastian Kaleta, a deputy justice minister. “The only tranche of the KPO that the European Commission has not blocked in Poland is the one for the construction of windmills.”