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External advertising saga continued – what does the “Landscaping Act” change”?

We have already posted on the IPBLOG how to legally advertise in the outdoors. That post was inspired by the legislative works, then in progress, on the Landscaping Act draft. The Act was signed by the President of the Republic of Poland in May, and will come into force on September 10, 2015. For this reason, we have decided to examine some of its elements and to briefly describe what changes it entails.

  1. The Act intends to substantially and comprehensively change the appearance of Polish streets. To achieve this goal, amendments in several legal acts were proposed, including: 1) Act on Local Planning and Development; 2) Public Roads Act; 3) Environment Protection Law Act; 4) Local Taxes and Charges Act.
  2. Community councils will be able to impose advertising fees on areas for which principles and conditions of situating small architecture, advertising boards and devices and fences have been determined. The aforementioned fees will be paid by owners of real properties or buildings, perpetual usufructuaries of real properties and owner-like possessors of real properties or buildings.
  3. The Act introduces a number of new legal definitions or modifies existing ones. This relates, for example, to:
  • advertisement (Article 4(23) of Public Roads Act of 12 March 1985) – advertising board or advertising device located within the field of vision of road users (…) and also any other visual information medium, together with structural elements and attachments, not being a road sign (…), a sign informing about facilities located along the road, placed by the community, including public utilities, a sign informing about a monument protection location or information board about the name of a nature conservation area (…);
  • advertising board (Article 2(16b) of Act on Local Planning and Development of 27 March 2003) – shall be understood as a physical object intended for or used for the purposes of displaying an advertisement together with structural elements and attachments, having a flat surface serving the purpose of displaying an advertisement, in particular, advertising banner, advertisements affixed to building windows and advertisements placed on the scaffolding, fence or equipment of a building site, with the exception of small items
  • advertising device (Article 2(16c) of Act on Local Planning and Development of 27 March 2003) – shall be understood as a physical object intended for or used for the purposes of displaying an advertisement together with structural elements and attachments, not being an advertising board (see the definition above), with the exception of small items of everyday use used in accordance with their intended purpose;
  • signboard (Article 2(16d) of Act on Local Planning and Development of 27 March 2003) – shall be understood as an advertising board or an advertising device informing about the activity performed on real property on which such advertising board or advertising device are located.

Unfortunately, the Act in question does not contain any uniform and coherent definition of landscape as a basic element of protecting our everyday surroundings. Moreover, the definition of advertising board in the Act on Local Planning and Development seems controversial, because advertising boards include not only banners and grids, but most of all billboards.

  1. The Act in its original version was to include provisions on landscape landmarks that were widely criticized by the industry of renewable sources of energy. Landscape landmarks were to be defined as construction works that have dominating visual influence on the landscape. Their construction was to be conditional upon local spatial development plans and urban principles of landscape protection. Ultimately, this idea was rejected.
  2. Provincial local governments will have its own new assignments consisting of the introduction of general identification and validation of landscapes by means of performing a landscaping audit for a given area. Landscaping audits will comprise the entire province in order to identify and determine the location of priority landscapes. In particular, the audit is to specify the boundaries and location of national parks, nature reserves, landscape parks, protected landscape areas, culture parks and places included, or proposed to be included, on the lists prepared by UNESCO. The audit, conducted once every twenty years, will make it possible to specify dangers and to prepare protection policies regarding a specific landscape.

The aforementioned proposals were met with very positive feedback of non-governmental organizations and local government bodies that have proudly declared it to be a tool used to battle frequently chaotic and unsightly advertisements. However, advertisers represented by the Outdoor Advertising Chamber are skeptical of the Act. As we can read in the article on the Chamber’s website:

The Act on the amendment of certain acts intended to enhance the tools of landscape protection will enter into force in autumn this year. It contains numerous controversial provisions that can be variously interpreted. It does not really improve the existing legal state in the scope of shaping the landscape of public space, but it is.


We’re convinced that we can, together with local governments, create good and friendly, both to the environment and business, conceptions regarding situating advertising media in public spaces. We’re expecting constructive talks and building upon the best European experiences. We’re also counting on taking a bold look to the future in respect of using new technologies.

The full text of the appeal by the Outdoor Advertising Chamber can be read here: http://www.igrz.com.pl/.

And what will the situation look like in reality? Won’t the Act that was supposed to “clean up” Poland lead to an even bigger mess? Unfortunately, we will have to wait for answers to these questions at least till September when the provisions come into force.

#advertising #dominant landscape feature #landscape #landscape act #signboard

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