Romania has passed a new law to simplify and speed up the permitting process for renewable energy projects.
The changes are related to the construction of solar, wind, biomass, bioliquid, biogas, and storage facilities, substations, and other similar investments.
Law 166/2023 amends Urbanism Law 350/2001 and Construction Law 50/1991. It entered into force on June 10.
According to local media, building permits for renewable energy projects can be obtained without a zoning plan (PUZ).
A PUZ is no longer required for projects in urban areas (intra muros) and outside urban areas (extra muros). In January PUZ was abolished for extra muros land, and now also for intra muros land.
Obtaining a PUZ was one of the most time-consuming parts of the permitting process for renewable energy projects.
Renewable energy projects on extra muros plots of more than 50 hectares are prohibited
According to Wolf Theiss, Law 166/2023 must be read together with Land Law 18/1991, which addresses the exception to the restriction to build renewable energy projects on extra muros land (i.e. agricultural lands, pastures, vineyards, orchards, as well as land benefiting from improvements) that has soil fertility classes III, IV and V, provided that the projects fit within a maximum surface area of 50 hectares.
In practice, developers and investors in the industry are facing the current interpretation at the level of the Ministry of Agriculture whereby the construction of renewable energy projects on extra muros land surface areas of more than 50 hectares is forbidden, even if the investor/developer has carried out the zoning procedure of changing the land from extra muros into intra muros, the law firm said.
Law 166/23 also allows investors to obtain multiple building permits under a single urban planning certificate. It is not rare that they are developing multiple projects on a larger area of land with each of the projects spanning less than 50 hectares.