- Hans Weber
- December 4, 2023
Czech Government Approves Amendment to Protect Agricultural Land from Commercial Development
The Czech government has taken a significant step to safeguard valuable agricultural land from being used for commercial purposes, as it approved an amendment to the law on protecting agricultural land. This amendment, set to come into effect from mid-next year, aims to prevent the construction of shopping centers and large warehouses on prime agricultural land and awaits parliamentary discussion.
The core element of this amendment is a ban on using the highest-quality agricultural land for commercial projects, limiting such land use to areas no larger than one hectare. To provide a transitional period for cities and businesses to adapt to the changes, a five-year provision has been included in the proposal.
In recent decades, Czech landscapes have witnessed the transformation of fertile agricultural land into massive warehouses and shopping centers. This amendment seeks to put a legal stop to such practices, preserving these valuable agricultural resources for food production and ecological functions.
Furthermore, the amendment introduces additional measures to mitigate erosion and redefines the boundaries of agricultural land to include various ecological landscape elements like groups of trees, avenues, and wetlands that support vital ecological functions. Minister of the Environment Petr Hladík underscores the significance of these changes in enhancing environmental protection and sustainability.
Notably, representatives of companies have not expressed strong support for this amendment during the public consultation process. Concerns have been raised that the measure could potentially hinder the construction of transportation infrastructure and hinder the development of municipalities, as indicated by the Ministry of Local Development.
However, the move has garnered support from environmental advocates and proponents of sustainable practices. One notable aspect is the encouragement of agrovoltaics, a combination of agriculture and photovoltaics that allows for the simultaneous use of land for farming and solar panel installation. These systems, which can be implemented above vineyards, hop fields, or fruit orchards, harness resilient crops that are conducive to shading and require less intensive agricultural work. Proponents believe that agrovoltaics offer a sustainable way to produce solar energy without compromising valuable agricultural land.
Jan Krčmář, Executive Director of the Solar Association, emphasizes that the law, when approved, can facilitate the adoption of agrovoltaics, helping to enhance solar energy production without sacrificing agricultural land. Additionally, solar panels provide protection for plants against adverse weather conditions, contribute to clean energy production, reduce the carbon footprint in agriculture, and help farmers contend with rising energy costs.
While this amendment marks a significant development in preserving agricultural land and promoting sustainable practices, some experts suggest that restricting agrovoltaic projects to specific crop types, such as hops, vines, or fruit orchards, may not be ideal from a technical or economic perspective. Petra Štajner, Director of Greenbuddies Consulting, believes that this approach could slow down the adoption of new technologies and potentially reduce the competitiveness of Czech farmers and the nation as a whole.
This amendment exemplifies the Czech government’s commitment to balancing economic growth with environmental conservation and sets an important precedent for preserving the country’s agricultural heritage and natural resources.
Article by Prague Forum