Europe – Faster approval timelines for new renewable energy installations have been approved by the European Parliament, opening the door for negotiations with EU member states to finalize the law in 2019.
The proposal, which is a part of the REpowerEU package, was put up by the European Commission on May 18 in response to Russia’s military intervention in Ukraine. The package aims to reduce Europe’s dependency on imported fossil fuels.
The final text amendments were passed by MEPs with 407 votes in favor, 34 votes against, and 181 abstentions. The proposed rule aims to speed up the approval process for new renewable energy power plants, increasing domestic production capacity within the EU.
Before the article may become law, EU member states still need to approve it. The Commission’s proposal is presently being examined by EU nations, and they are anticipated to make a decision on Monday, paving the path for negotiations with the Parliament to complete the law after the new year.
Renewable energy growth
With a maximum of nine months for so-called “renewables acceleration areas,” which will be decided by each EU country based on local circumstances, the updated language suggests shorter approval timelines for new installations.
According to the “positive silence” principle, if the appropriate authority does not answer before the deadline, the request will be taken as authorized. The acceleration process shouldn’t take longer than 18 months outside of these locations.
According to the plan, renewable energy projects will be deemed to be in the “overriding public interest” and will thus be eligible for streamlined processes and certain exemptions from EU environmental regulations.
In addition, EU nations must ensure that permits for installing solar energy equipment on buildings are delivered within a month. For smaller installations under 50 kW, a notification process will suffice.
Although they weren’t included in the original proposal, biomass combustion plants may now be included in the fast-track regulatory process thanks to a last-minute change put forth by the EPP group.
The Socialists and Democrats (S&D), the Green Party, and Renew Europe, three moderate parties, initially threatened to withdraw their support for this amendment because of the dispute it provoked among lawmakers.
The approved plan states that, with the exception of artificial and manmade surfaces like rooftops, parking lots, and transportation infrastructure, renewable acceleration areas cannot be established in natural protection areas or along known bird and marine animal migration routes.
Environmental organizations are worried that developments in “go-to regions” won’t have to undergo environmental impact assessments (EIAs), which are necessary in accordance with the Birds and Habitats directives.