WARSAW, Feb 8 (Reuters) – The Polish parliament passed legislation changing some of Europe’s strictest rules on developing wind farms, backtracking on a government proposal that had aimed to more than double the existing capacity.
Relaxing rules on wind farm investment is among the milestones Poland has to pass to unlock billions of euros of European Union recovery funds.
There were 214 votes in favour, 27 lawmakers voted against and 209 abstained.
The existing rules have practically blocked land for investment in new turbines since 2016, when the ruling Law and Justice Party mandated that a turbine should be a minimum distance of 10 times its height away from residential buildings.
While the government last year tabled a proposal to radically reduce that minimum distance, the ruling majority amended it higher again to a minimum of 700 metres in the bill passed on Wednesday, a move investors say deters planned investment.
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The amendment will slash the potential onshore wind investments by 60-70%, effectively discouraging them, according to the Polish Wind Energy Association (PSEW) which groups some 150 investors.
As much as 12,500 megawatts (MW) of new wind capacity could have been added by investors in Poland by 2030, according to the initial government draft, more than doubling current potential.
The bill now goes to the upper house of parliament.
Reporting by Alan Charlish, Marek Strzelecki, Pawel Florkiewicz, Anna Koper; Editing by Alex Richardson and Diane Craft
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