Analysis: Polish MPs hit election trail with anti-wind call

POLAND: As Polish political parties rally countrywide to win support for the May elections to the European Parliament, some candidates are publicly campaigning with an anti-wind message in an effort to gain votes.

Polish candidates have been pushing an anti-wind message to the electorate
Polish candidates have been pushing an anti-wind message to the electorate

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This is especially true of candidates from the biggest opposition party, the right-wing Law and Justice (PiS), which is neck and neck with the ruling centre-right Civic Platform (PO). According to the polls, PiS is typically almost level with PO, at around 30% of the vote.

Recent examples of PiS candidates campaigning against wind energy include a series of meetings by the party's candidates Malgorzata Sadurska from the eastern Lublin region; and Anna Zalewska from the south-western Opole region, who have been campaigning against wind farms on the ground that they pose serious health risks if located too close to houses.

Following the negative campaign, a wind power project of 16-20 turbines in the east was dropped by investor EcoWind in February. In late March, Sadurska campaigned in two communes in the Lublin region where a project of 21 turbines and capacity of 63MW is being considered by developers Green Power Development and Contino Wind Group.

Some PiS politicians are rallying against wind power developments by referring to a draft proposal to limit them once they win power (national elections are taking place in 2015). In February, the party proposed a law to restrict the development of wind power projects.

The proposed law, which also appears to have the support of PO, proposes that wind farms be developed in locations at least three kilometres from residential areas and forests. "Every 100 metres from residential areas counts toward increased security," Sadurska said.

The law would not just affect projects in the development pipeline — it proposes the relocation of existing installations so that they comply with the three-kilometre rule.

With a population density of 123 people per square kilometre and forests covering almost 30% of the country, wind organisations argue that it the three-kilometre rule would drastically limit possibilities for wind investors.

The draft stands in sharp contrast to the expected effects of the recently announced draft law to support energy from renewables. According to the draft, companies will bid for capacity during state-organised auctions, a system that will award a premium to  cost-effective renewable technologies such as wind and biomass.

In the Polish renewable energy mix, wind was responsible for 28.6% of electricity produced in 2012, according to data from the Main Statistical Office.

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