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The rules of the withdrawal of lands from agricultural use have changed

A new law amending certain acts concerning the functions of the Minister of Agriculture amended a number of agricultural acts as of 1 July 2023, including Act on the Protection of Agricultural Land. The most significant amendments relate to use linked to a specific location. Agricultural land can only be used for other purposes in exceptional cases, primarily by using lower-quality agricultural land. Agricultural land of better-than-average quality can only be used for other purposes on a temporary basis or linked to a specific location.

Use “linked to a specific location” may include the expansion of an existing facility, the construction of transport and utility connections, or the construction of other facilities necessary for extracting natural resources. From 1 July 2023, the area required for the excavation and preservation of the archaeological find will also be classified as use linked to a specific location. The existence of the ground for such specific use must be proven by the recipient at the time of the application. The legislation states that the use linked to a specific location is not justified by the mere desirability of locating the facility, by the ease of the investor because of the willingness of the owners of the land to cooperate, or if the user incurs additional costs if the investment were to be made on other property.

It is an important novelty that if the quality of the land has changed from above-average to average or below-average as a result of a land classification procedure, the land may be used within 5 years from the change in the quality of the land only if the Government declares that specific land a target investment area by a decision published in the Hungarian Official Gazette.

Failure to comply with or circumvention of these rules constitutes a serious procedural infringement, and the decision authorising the use for other purposes or subsequently consenting to the unauthorised use for other purposes taken in the procedure must be annulled or revoked and, if necessary, a new procedure must be initiated.