Alert – Changes in the offshore legislation – the answer to investors’ problems?
Amendment to the Act on maritime areas of the Republic of Poland and maritime administration
The amendment to the Act on maritime areas of the Republic of Poland and maritime administration, signed by the President on 23 November 2022, was published in the Journal of Laws on 7 December 2022. The amendment enters into force within 14 days after its publication. The amendment aims to simplify administrative proceedings related to permits for the construction or use of artificial islands, structures, and devices in Polish maritime areas and permits for laying and maintaining cables and pipelines. It also imposes additional obligations on investors. Below is a brief summary of the key changes.
1. Digitising the submission of applications and documents
For projects requiring a building permit, it will be necessary to file applications electronically and to deliver documents in proceedings related to:
- permits for the construction or use of artificial islands, structures, and devices in Polish maritime areas,
- permits for laying and maintaining cables or pipelines.
Applications will not be processed unless they are submitted electronically!
In determination (competitive) proceedings, all information and documents can also be submitted electronically.
2. Determination (competitive) proceedings – who wins if applicants have the same number of points?
According to the Act on maritime areas, the entity selected in the determination (competitive) procedure will be the applicant who satisfied the minimum qualification criteria and obtained the highest number of points among all applicants. However, the Act does not provide a mechanism to determine which entity should be selected if several applicants obtained an identical number of points. The amendment to the Act introduces a solution in the form of conflict rules which provide for three stages of comparing points achieved by applicants who satisfied the statutory criteria.
3. Significant modification of an application to be considered as a new application
Until now, the modification of an application for a permit to construct or use artificial islands, structures, and devices or for a permit to lay cables or pipelines did not have any legal effect on the application’s filing date. A modified application was deemed to have been submitted on the date the originally submitted application was received. Now, any modifications containing changes which affect the type of planned project, its location, specific technical parameters or the value of the planned investment will be treated as a new application. The original application will be deemed to have been withdrawn.
4. Additional conditions in permits to construct or use of artificial islands, structures, and devices
During determination (competitive) proceedings, an applicant can receive points for, inter alia, demonstrating that other investments could also be carried out in a given area. However, until now no legal instruments existed to enforce such declarations submitted during determination (competitive) proceedings. The amendment allows additional conditions to be added to a permit for the construction or use of artificial islands, structures, and devices. Such conditions will result from the applicant’s declarations, submitted in the determination procedure, for which the applicant received points.
5. Suspending proceedings due to changes to the zoning plan
Previously, the authority could suspend proceedings regarding a permit for the construction and use of artificial islands, structures, and devices if the zoning plan was still being prepared. The amendment also enables such proceedings to be suspended (for 3 years maximum) if a decision is taken to commence the procedure to amend a zoning plan, as a result of its periodic assessment.