Hungary restricts quality agricultural land for solar power plants

Hungary

Hungary has announced changes to certain rules of the Land Protection Act, which took effect on 5 June 2021.

The most important change is that solar power plants with nominal capacity of more than 0.5 MW can only be developed on agricultural lands of below local average quality.

Until now, most land registries accepted the interpretation that solar power plants within 1000 metres of an electric power distributor system with capacity of more than 0.5 MW were exempted from the general restriction that only agriculture land having inferior quality may be withdrawn from cultivation. The new legislation now states that larger solar power plants can only be constructed on inferior agricultural lands.

This new provision reduces the areas available for the development of larger solar power plants. Power plants with capacity of less than 0.5 MW will be allowed on all agricultural land irrespective of quality. Investors will need to enquire with the local land registry to determine if the selected land is below the local average.

The new legislation allows for solar power plant developments without a land registry permitting procedure, provided that the development and operation does not hinder the original function of the agricultural land (e.g. use as arable land, grassland, etc.). While this may seem like remarkable relief, in reality allowing the cultivation of agricultural lands beneath power plants could be more expensive to develop.

Until now, farmers have been able to set up solar power plants with nominal capacity under 0.5 MW without obtaining a permit to withdraw the land from cultivation. While keeping this allowance, the new legislation extends this possibility to all those who would develop solar power plant with a nominal capacity under 0.5 MW on agricultural lands of below average quality (i.e. with value under 15 goldencrowns per hectare soil quality index).

The amendment also allows the government to regulate solar power plants by governmental decree with special regard to solutions allowing the cultivation of land beneath solar power plants.

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