The Landscape Act
On September 11, new rules on strengthening the landscape protection instruments enter into force. The aim of the so-called "Landscape Act" is to fulfill the requirements of the European Landscape Convention, ratified by Poland in 2004, by regulating the presence of advertisements in public space. Changes will consist in introducing new provisions to be integrated in the Act on public roads, Spatial Planning and Development Act and Nature Conservation Act.
Among others, the new Act provides definitions of advertisement, signboard, landscape, and priority landscape. The latter concept refers to the landscape particularly valuable to the society, the one which requires specific regulations of terms and conditions regarding its development.
Within the meaning of the upcoming changes, the Regional Councils will be authorized to adopt landscape audits, specifying in particular the regional landscapes and the location and method of protecting the priority landscapes.
It is mainly the Municipal Councils that will be equipped by the Landscape Act with far-reaching powers concerning the protection of the landscape. Local authorities will be empowered to codify the terms, conditions, dimensions and even the types of building materials used for the construction of ads. The Council will also be able to introduce special charges for the placement of signboards and advertising devices in the municipality. The fee will depend on the size and exposure time in a permitted area.
In order to fulfill the statutory objectives, the new regulations provide for severe penalties for placing ads which are inconsistent with the resolution of the Municipal Council. The penalty will amount to forty times the advertising fee established by the municipality and will vary depending on the advertising space and the time of illegal exposure. In the event that the circumstances make it impossible to identify the person who placed the ad, it is the owner, perpetual usufructuary or owner-like possessor of the real estate who will be charged for illegal advertising. Moreover, the new Act brings legal changes to Petty Offence Code as regards the criminal offence of illegal advertising in public places and monuments. New regulations extend liability onto those who instigate and help in committing the offence.
The final version of the Act does not include the formerly proposed institution of spatial dominant, which referred to building restrictions pertaining to specific structures, to include wind power stations. Nevertheless, it should be noted that the Parliament is currently working on regulations the main purpose of which is to introduce additional planning requirements related to the construction of wind turbines.