Proposed wind turbine law fulfils EU milestone, says minister

Poland's minister for EU affairs has said a new amendment to draft legislation on the spacing of wind turbines does not endanger meeting an EU condition to unblock funding.

The amendment specifies that wind turbines cannot be built less than 700 metres from residential buildings. The legislation, which is designed to liberalise Poland's strict code on on-shore wind farms, had originally specified a distance of 500 metres.

Poland is due to get EUR 23.9 billion in grants and EUR 11.5 billion in cheap loans from the EU's post-pandemic Recovery and Resilience Facility.

But the EC has blocked Poland's access to the funding due to a rule-of-law dispute, despite the fact that the Commission has approved Poland's National Recovery Plan (KPO), which outlines how the government will spend the money.

The EC has set a number of conditions, or 'milestones,' for Poland to meet before the funding can be unblocked, one of which concerns renewable energy.

Parliament was set to change an earlier law forbidding wind turbines from being situated less than 10 times their height from residential buildings, changing the limit to 500 metres. But a surprise last-minute amendment proposed a distance of 700 metres, something wind energy lobbies have said could stall investment in the sector.

EU Affairs Minister Szymon Szynkowski vel Sek told journalists, however, that the amendment did not threaten the EC milestone's fulfilment.

"I hope the parliamentary work on the third reading will be concluded and the bill will go to the Senate because it enabled steps to be taken in the context of gaining money from the National Recovery Plan," he said.

Szynkowski vel Sek added that he saw no problem with the 700-metre amendment.

"It in no way changes the liberalisation of that law, that liberalisation will simply be smaller if the amendment is adopted, but it fulfils the milestone," the minister said.

Asked if President Andrzej Duda would be consulted over the act, Szynkowski vel Sek answered that "if it is the president's wish," he would be available.