20.08.2019 Business law

Facilitated procedure for obtaining environmental decisions

Reduction of an area impacted by an investment and reduction of time needed to issue an environmental decision – are the two major changes introduced by the amended environmental acts which now await the signature of the President.

Amendment of the Act on Providing Information on the Environment and Environmental Protection, Public Participation in Environmental Protection and on Environmental Impact Assessment and certain other acts will come into force after 14 days following its publication in the Journal of Laws.

Introduced changes intend to regulate and speed up the procedure for issuing decisions on environmental conditions. Below, we outline the most important novelties.

Unquestionably, the most controversial change relates to modification of an area impacted by the project. Until now, according to the Act on Providing Information on the Environment, this area comprised the plots adjacent to the plot where the project was developed, plus the plots on which the environmental quality norms (such as to permissible noise level, vibration or offensive odours) would be exceeded as a result of the project development or its operation as well as plots situated in the range of a significant impact of the project which could restrict the property development as per its current intended use (pursuant to the local spatial development plan).

Following the amendment, the project impact area will now comprise an area of the project development and the area situated within a 100-meter range from the borders of this area. In practice, this will mean that owners or perpetual usufructuaries of the plots adjacent to the plot on which the investment will be carried out, will no longer be automatically considered the parties to the proceedings for issuance of environmental decision. Due to the fact that the wording of the act refers to an area instead of plot, there may be situations where the investment and its impact area within a range of 100 meters, will be situated on one plot owned by the investor extending well beyond the investment impact area. In such a case, owners or perpetual usufructuaries of the adjacent plots will have to seek their participation in the proceedings for issuance of environmental decision on other legal basis e.g. due to a risk of exceeding permissible levels of noise as a result of the investment.

Learn more: Central Register of Beneficial Owners

It should also be noted that the amendment introduced a requirement for the owner or perpetual usufructuary of the plot situated within the project impact area, to prove their rights in rem to this property, in particular by submitting an excerpt from the land registry to the competent authority (village mayor, town mayor or president of the city). Failure to prove their rights will preclude the possibility to participate in the capacity of a party in the proceedings for issuance of environmental decision. If, following the commencement of the proceedings for issuance of environmental decision the ownership or perpetual usufruct is transferred to another person, the latter will have to notify the authority conducing the proceedings on the transfer of right. If the new owner or perpetual usufructuary fails to make such notification, they will not be entitled to request that the proceedings for issuance of environmental decision be renewed.

Another important change is the elimination of possibility to challenge the decision on the need to carry out environmental assessment in the case of projects that may have potential impact on the environment. Such decision may, therefore, be challenged only in the phase of appealing the decision on environmental assessment and not as currently, in a separate appeal.

Reducing the number of parties to the proceedings for issuance of environmental decision from 20 to 10 also aims at speeding up the proceedings. The reduced number of parties allows the authority to make notifications in the form of a public announcement rather than sending individual letters to each of the parties.

In view of the foregoing changes, the amendment should be positively assessed from the point of view of investors carrying out investment projects. The planned solutions will undoubtedly speed up the procedure to obtain environmental decisions and, consequently, the entire investment process. The arguments against the amendment do not seem convincing. In particular, reducing the area of impact to 100 meters from the borders of the project will, admittedly, put an end to automatically recognizing the owners or perpetual usufructuaries as parties to the proceedings, nevertheless, in the case of investments which indeed might have significant negative impact on the environment, the participation in the proceedings will be guaranteed on other basis, for instance, in the case of projects that would result in exceeding the environmental quality standards.


Want to stay up to date?
Subscribe to our newsletter!
Full version

TGC Corporate Lawyers

ul. Hrubieszowska 2
01-209 Warszawa

+48 22 295 33 00

NIP: 525-22-71-480, KRS: 0000167447,
REGON: 01551820200000. Sąd Rejonowy dla
m.st. Warszawy, XII Wydział Gospodarczy