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Important amendment not only for developers concerning the Agricultural Land Fund Protection Act has passed its third reading

We bring you news concerning the amendment to the Act on the Protection of the Agricultural Land Fund (hereinafter referred to as the "APALF"), which is a significant change in the field of construction law, not only in relation to developers.

On 3 May, the amendment to the APALF passed its third reading, which primarily responds to the increasing construction on the most fertile land in the Czech Republic (agricultural land of class I and II). The legislators aim to prevent the widespread conversion of the best agricultural land into department stores and warehouses.

From the original stricter option of protecting the best agricultural land, the Chamber of Deputies approved a softer one (e.g. without farmers' pre-emption rights on the land they farm). Even so, many important changes are being made, which we will present to you in turn.

In relation to foreign relations, the acquisition of agricultural land by entities from abroad  is prohibited (exceptions to the ban are EU and European Economic Area countries, Switzerland and countries with which an international treaty is concluded and from which something else follows) if the entity is from a state whose legislation does not allow the acquisition of agricultural land by Czech entities (inheritance is an exception). Large shopping and logistics centres with an area of over one hectare or standard photo voltaic power plants should not be built on the most fertile agricultural land in the future. Multi-storey building capacities are also preferred.

However, the amendment provides for exceptions to the aforementioned restriction on land withdrawal, specifically for:

  1. Intents listed in the Act on Accelerating the Construction of Strategically Important Infrastructure (strategically important constructions);
  2. Projects directly related to public transport infrastructure (fuel stations, etc.);
  3. Cases where the share of the total area of the most fertile agricultural land withdrawn for projects such as trade or storage of more than 1 hectare or standard photovoltaic power plants in a given region out of the total area of the best agricultural land in that region does not exceed 0.1% (0.2% in the Moravskoslezský, Karlovarský and Ústecký regions) per calendar year. This means that it will be possible to exceed the above limit of one hectare if the ceiling percentage of the sum of all withdrawn class I and class II agricultural land in a given region per calendar year is not exceeded.

Also new is the ecological move to promote solar energy installations, which can only be built on the most fertile agricultural land as agro voltaic, i.e. under which it is possible to farm normally.

The amendment also adds new or modifies the original procedural aspects of the withdrawal of land from the agricultural land fund (hereinafter referred to as "ALF"). The withdrawal of agricultural land from the ALF will be more expensive due to the increase in the value of the coefficients for obtaining the resulting levy rate. Furthermore, in cases where the consent for the withdrawal of agricultural land from the ALF is issued by the Ministry of the Environment (i.e. particularly large-scale or strategic projects), a special statement from the Ministry of Agriculture will be required as a basis for the issuance of this consent, with regard to creating conditions for ensuring the ability of Czech agriculture to provide basic nutrition for the population.

The new regulation will leave 10 years for the implementation of projects such as storage and trade on the most fertile agricultural land, if these are foreseen in the spatial planning documentation. Other transitional periods are also changed, which, among other things, give a chance to potential new projects.

In conclusion, this is a major amendment that will restrict commercial and warehousing development over 1 hectare and prohibit standard photovoltaic power plants from replacing agro voltaic ones (with certain exceptions). For projects already identified in the spatial planning documentation, the new regulation leaves a 10-year time limit for their implementation on the most fertile agricultural land. It also provides room for new projects that will still be viable on such land.

This proposal is still pending in the Senate and will then go to the President of the Czech Republic. However, we do not expect this text to be blocked here. If there are any changes, we will inform you promptly.

 

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