Czech Chamber of Deputies approved the relaxation of the rules for the disposal of land
Rules for the disposal of agricultural land acquired or to be acquired from the state free of charge by municipalities and regions are likely to be relaxed. The period of time for which municipalities and regions have to comply with the conditions, especially for the use of such land according to transfer agreements, is to be halved. This is envisaged by the amendment on the State Land Fund, which was approved by the Chamber of Deputies today in an accelerated initial round. According to the authors of the draft from all parliamentary factions, the changes are intended to simplify the development of municipalities from next year.
The amendment, which Agriculture Minister Marek Výborný (KDU-ČSL) says will also reduce bureaucracy, will now be submitted to the Senate for consideration. Representatives of all parliamentary clubs, including the opposition ANO and SPD movements, supported the draft in the debate. 112 out of 119 MPs present voted in favour of the norm.
Municipalities and regions can acquire from the authority, for example, land that is located in a built-up or developable area and that is designated for a public utility building or for public greenery. Local authorities must now comply with the conditions for ten years from the date of transfer, at least until the end of October 2029, which is regularly checked by the Land Office. If they breach the conditions, they must return the land or give monetary compensation. The amendment would reduce the time limit by half, to five years, including retrospectively. In the case of older transfers, it would therefore cease to exist altogether with the entry into force of the draft.
Moreover, municipalities and regions would not violate the transfer conditions under the amendment even if their zoning plans are changed. It would also be sufficient if the purpose for which the land was acquired was its main use.
The Ministry of Finance opposed the reduction of the time limit to five years, according to which the free transfer of land could constitute unlawful public aid under EU rules. The ministries of local development, agriculture and the environment supported the amendment. The Ministry of the Interior critically assessed the retroactive validity of the shortening of the time limit and took a neutral stance on the amendment.
"The primary aim is to reduce potential obstacles that would hinder the development of municipalities and regions," the drafters of the proposed amendments wrote in their explanatory memorandum. They point out that the current trend in land-use planning is to move away from single-purpose areas to multifunctional uses that better suit the lives of residents. "Another non-negligible benefit of the proposed amendment is the reduction of the administrative burden on the State Land Office in carrying out regular annual inspections," the authors said in the justification of the amendment.
According to the explanatory memorandum, municipalities had sent over 17,100 applications for the transfer of a total of 67,700 state agricultural plots by last July. So far, they have acquired more than 31,400 plots with a total area of nearly 9,170 hectares. "Currently, there are about 3,400 more pending applications," the background paper said.