EU aims to approve solar projects within three months in renewable energy target areas

The European Council has agreed on changes to the European Union’s Renewable Energy Directive as part of the »REPowerEU« program. Accordingly, member states will designate »go-to« areas for renewable energy, where shortened and simplified approval procedures will apply. The basic requirement is that the respective land or sea areas or inland waters are particularly suitable and »present lower risks for the environment.«
However, the timeframe for designation of the sites is far-reaching: Member states have 18 months to map and 30 months to designate their respective sites after the directive enters into force. A shorter period of six months is to apply to »for areas already designated as suitable for an accelerated renewables deployment, if among other things they are not in Natura 2000 areas and have undergone an environmental assessment.«
Member states’ plans would be subject to a »simplified environmental impact assessment« as a whole, rather than examining each individual project. As a result, this would »limit the grounds of legal objection to new installations by presuming they are of overriding public interest.«
In »go-to« areas, the goal is for permitting procedures for renewable energy projects to take no longer than one year, and for offshore projects no longer than two years. For solar plants, the process should take no longer than three months. Biomass combustion plants and hydropower plants are excluded from inclusion in the »go-to« areas.

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