Lawmakers in Poland agreed to relax rules for installing onshore wind turbines, a move encouraged by the European Union to promote renewable energy in the coal-dependent country.
Members of the Sejm, the lower house of Poland’s parliament, voted 231-209 in two ballots late Thursday to allow turbines to be installed less than 700 meters from homes. The current rule, which was introduced by the current government in 2016, requires a distance of at least 10 times the height of the turbine.
With no locations meeting that requirement, the height formula practically stopped the development of wind power in Poland. The European Union, which is blocking the country’s pandemic recovery fund over several legislative issues, had called on the government to come up with less restrictive measures.
Almost all of the legislators who voted in favor of the new rule were from the parties of the governing coalition.
The Conservative government that took office in 2015 blocked the development of wind farms, arguing that residents were concerned that the turbines would bring noise, ground vibrations and other inconveniences.
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In contrast, the government has supported solar power and plans for significant offshore wind farms in the Baltic Sea. It is also supporting through subsidies the coal mining of Poland, a major employer in the Southern Silesia region.
Climate and Environment Minister Anna Moskva said on Twitter that the new law “strengthens Poland’s energy security” and “increases power coming from renewable sources” while respecting the views of local communities.
The law, which still requires President Andrzej Duda’s approval to take effect, gives residents a 10% share of the turbines and the energy produced.
Critics said the bill approved on Thursday still limits the number of possible locations and the amount of power Poland can get from wind. He argued that renewable sources should be promoted as much as possible in view of rising energy prices and to reduce dependence on Russian energy.
In January, about 73% of Poland’s energy came from black and brown coal, 15% from wind power, 9% from natural gas and 1.4% from other renewable sources, according to ryneklektryczny.pl, a website dedicated to Poland’s energy market. Poland also imported some energy.
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Brussels hopes Warsaw will create conditions for the development of wind power, as well as meet a number of other benchmarks, before billions of euros in funds are distributed to the country to recover from the pandemic.
Other major milestones include reforming Poland’s record of law and revising rules for disciplining judges.
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