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The European Commission has presented a new package of measures to help the EU wean itself off Russian fossil fuels by 2027. The “REPowerEU Action Plan” spells out that renewables are at the core of Europe’s energy security. And crucially it tackles the permitting bottlenecks that are holding back the expansion of wind and solar.
A new law will enshrine the principle that renewables are presumed to be in the "overriding public interest". And they’ve explained in detailed recommendation and guidance documents how Governments can simplify their permitting processes.
Crucially, the REPowerEU Action Plan acknowledges the need for wind energy permitting to be “drastically accelerated”. To that end the Commission has tabled a new legislative proposal on renewables permitting which will be folded into the ongoing review of the EU Renewable Energy Directive.
This new proposal does three things. It would enshrine in EU law the principle that renewables are presumed to be in the “overriding public interest”. This means their build-out can be prioritised in the current energy crisis on a case-by-case basis and until climate neutrality is reached. The proposal then creates renewable “go-to” areas that National Governments need to set up on the back of a strategic environmental assessment. In these areas projects will need to be permitted within 1 year. Finally, the Commission keeps the existing permitting deadlines – 2 years for normal new projects, and 1 year for repowered projects – but clarifies which permits and procedures must be delivered within these deadlines.
Alongside the new law on permitting, the Commission has also published a permitting recommendation and detailed guidance to Governments on how exactly they can simplify their permitting rules and procedures. The new guidance outlines best practices on permitting from around Europe and shows what works: how you can digitalise the processes, ensure public authorities work better together, etc.
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