Preparations for setting up an offshore wind farm in Poland is a lengthy process that involves multiple steps. The process starts with the Investor obtaining a so-called location approval (PSZW – an approval for the erection and use of artificial islands, constructions and equipment for offshore wind farms). It is granted upon an investor’s application by means of an administrative decision. The decision is made by a minister relevant for maritime affairs, currently – the Minister of Infrastructure.
In February 2017, in connection with works on spatial development plans for marine waters, the minister relevant for maritime affairs suspended the processing of the submitted applications for location approvals, until a spatial development plan for Polish marine areas is adopted.
In February 2021, the long awaited act on promoting the production of power in offshore wind farms entered into force. Following that, the Regulation of the Council of Ministers of 14 April 2021 (Polish Journal of Laws of 2021, Item 935) adopted the Spatial development plan for internal marine waters, the territorial sea and the exclusive economic zone in the 1:200 000 scale that is in effect since 22 May 2021 (from now on referred to as the Plan).
The Minister of Infrastructure then commenced the process of dismissing procedures for the issuing of location approvals. The applications in which the coordinates of the planned enterprise did not correspond to the coordinates specified in appendix 2 to the Act on promoting the production of power in offshore wind farms were dismissed automatically. This in turn “released” locations for which an application for a location approval may be submitted.
Applications for location approvals submitted before the Act and the Plan entered into force, that have not been processed yet, and whose coordinates correspond to the appendix to the Act, will not be dismissed.
At the turn of May and June 2021, investors once again started preparing applications for location approvals for offshore wind farms located on the Baltic Sea. They will be submitted and processed when the Regulation of the Minister of Infrastructure on applications assessment in a decision procedure enters into force.
On 8 November 2021, another draft regulation on applications assessment in a decision procedure with justification and the regulation consequences analysis was published on the Government’s Legislation Centre website. It includes a series of criteria that must be met when seeking a location approval (PSZW).
If several applications are submitted to the Minister of Infrastructure for a single area, a decision procedure will take place. The rules of the procedure will be laid out in detail in the above-mentioned regulation draft. The draft will also specify how points are to be awarded and the method for determining the most significant criterion for assessing an application.
What environmental elements must be included in an application for a location approval?
The Investors must provide as detailed information on the investment as possible, starting with its compliance with the Spatial development plan for internal marine waters, the territorial sea and the exclusive economic zone in the 1:200 000 scale that is in effect since 22 May 2021 (in short referred to as the PZP POM), through financial security, a schedule, to logistics related with personnel and organisational resources.
One of the application elements is a description of environmental conditions and a description of the anticipated impact of the planned investment on the area covered by the application.
The main section of the application should contain information related with the environmental impact assessment in terms of, above all, geological conditions, mineral resources, deposits with their chemical composition, hydrologic and hydrochemical conditions, phytoplankton and zooplankton, phytobenthos and zoobenthos, ichtiofauna, avifauna, marine mammals, chiropterofauna and protected areas, including Natura 2000.
Other issues pertaining to the environmental impact assessment procedure are reflected in the following appendices to the application:
• Appendix 3 – Information on the environment within the range of the planned enterprise impact;
• Appendix 4 – Description of potential impact of the planned enterprise on the environment and its natural resources, both live and mineral ones, and its assessment;
• Appendix 5 – Description of measures mitigating the negative impact of the planned enterprise on the marine environment;
• Appendix 6 – Description of the assumptions and the applied forecasting methods and the used data on the marine environment, highlighting difficulties arising when gathering the necessary information;
• Appendix 7 – A draft of a monitoring programme, including environmental monitoring and the monitoring of an investment and operational process management;
• Appendix 8 – Description of environmental elements protected under the Act of 16 April 2004 on environmental protection Polish Journal of Laws of 2021.1098, that are within the range of the planned enterprise impact.
In view of a wide range of data on the marine environment, cooperation with experts in the various fields and experience related with the assessment of the impact of actions planned in a given environment are extremely important.
EKO-KONSULT Sp. z o.o. participated in developing an environmental impact assessment report, above all, for a planned offshore wind farm of PGE. On the basis of this experience it may be concluded that it will be difficult to prepare some of the above-mentioned appendices without detailed knowledge on environmental conditions.
Coming back to the draft regulation on applications assessment in a decision procedure – it defines general criteria mentioned in Article 27 g of the Act on sea areas of the Republic of Poland and maritime administration. In accordance with the Act, the minister relevant for maritime affairs, in agreement with the minister relevant for climate issues, introduces (by means of a regulation) detailed criteria that will be taken into account when processing the applications. Some of the criteria for which additional points could be awarded include, above all, experience with projects related with energy storage, hydrogen technology and area use efficiency.
The maximum of 100 points may be awarded for meeting all of the criteria. The minimum qualifying threshold in the entire decision procedure is 57 points. What is important is the fact, that the qualifying threshold must be met for all the criteria for which points are awarded. Applications will be submitted only electronically, through the ePUAP platform.
It is assumed that decision procedures concerning the locations of offshore wind farms in the Polish exclusive economic zone will commence at the turn of 2021 and 2022. Announcements about the possibility of submitting applications for specific areas will be published on the Public Information Bulletin website of the Minister of Infrastructure.
Areas for which applications have been submitted can be checked on the Geoportal website, on a dedicated SIPAM platform (Maritime Administration Spatial Information System, https://sipam.gov.pl/mapy/geoportal-sipam/).
There are two tabs in the Morskie Farmy wiatrowe (Offshore Wind Farms) composition at the SIPAM Geoportal:
• Wnioski (Applications) > Farmy (Farms) – submitted applications for location approvals for offshore wind farms.
• Wnioski (Applications) > Kable do MFW (Cables for Offshore Wind Farms) – submitted applications for location approvals for cables leading power out of offshore wind farms.
Data in the generated table of attributes will be updated once a week, on Wednesdays, by 12:00 (Polish time), with a status as of Friday (end of day) in the preceding week. This way you can monitor, e.g. who submitted an application, for which area and which area was released.
The foundation for a successful application for a location approval in view of the current legal and formal status is the level of detail of a description of the planned investment concerning all of its aspects, as well as the time for preparing complete documentation that is key from the point of view of the Investor’s needs. EKO-KONSULT has vast experience gained in the last 30 years in offshore projects within the administrative borders of the Republic of Poland. EKO-KONSULT can help with developing documentation, supporting the investor throughout the entire procedure.
Environmental Impact Assessment Expert
EKO-KONSULT Sp. z o.o.
EKO-KONSULT Spółka z o.o.
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