In October a major amendment to the Geological and Mining Law of 9 June 2011 (Journal of Laws of 2023, item 633 as amended) took effect. One of the changes is the introduction of a legal definition of the term “strategic deposit”. This is defined as mineral deposits that are subject to special legal protection due to importance to the economy and national security. Where deposits are documented before the new law was enacted, proceedings to class deposits as strategic deposits in whole or in part will be initiated ex officio by the minister responsible for environmental issues within two years of the new amendment taking effect. The minister classifies deposits as strategic by issuing a decision. This has huge implications for the possibility of future development of sites on which strategic deposits are located. This is because due to the new wording of Article 94a(12) of the amendment, the minister responsible for environmental issues may also specify, in a decision classifying deposits as strategic, the conditions that municipalities have to include in urban development and local zoning plans. In particular, a municipality is required to prohibit construction of fixed structures or other development of a site where this would prevent strategic deposits being used .
On 16 October 2023, an amendment to the Law on the Environment and Environmental Protection of 3 October 2023 (Journal of Laws of 2023, item 1094 as amended) came into force. Among other things, the amendment makes major changes to the procedure for issuing environmental conditions. The first step is analysis of whether the development is compliant with the local zoning plan. In the case of offshore developments, compliance with the maritime spatial development plan for internal sea waters, territorial sea, and exclusive economic zone is required. In the event of non-compliance, the competent authority will deny the application for the development.
At the beginning of October, new provisions were introduced to the Criminal Code that tighten up many regulations, for instance concerning driving when inebriated, violent crimes, running a terrorist organization, and causing grievous harm to health. The penalty of imprisonment for 25 years has been replaced with solitary confinement from between one month and thirty years as well as by life imprisonment without parole. The new law also introduces harsher criminal sentences for liability for crimes that endanger life, health, sexual freedom and property. Furthermore, minors aged between fourteen and fifteen years may be held liable under the Criminal Code for crimes such as qualified homicide if the circumstances of the case, mental development of the offender, personal traits, and personal situation show that educational and corrective measures will not be effective in terms of rehabilitation. In addition, new types of crimes have also been introduced, such as acceptance of a contract killing (new article 148a Criminal Code), evading an obligation to remedy damages and or make recompense for wrong suffered (new article 244c Criminal Code), and preparation to commit homicide (new article 148 § 5 Criminal Code).
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