TALLINN – Briefing the parliament's environment committee on the ministry's plans for the second half of this year on Monday, Minister of the Environment Madis Kallas said that the problems related to plastic pollution, water supply and forests must be solved.
"Our main emphasis will be on curbing the use of single-use plastics, developing a vision for the future of forestry, and ensuring a reasonably priced quality water service," Kallas said according to spokespeople for the Riigikogu.
Kallas listed the so-called single-use plastics bill, which will reach the parliament soon, and the new Public Water Supply and Sewerage Act, which will soon be in second reading, as priorities. In the field of wildlife, the most important things are moving forward with the forestry development plan for this decade (MAK2030), amending the Nature Conservation Act and determining areas of increased public interest with amendments to the Forest Act and the Planning Act.
Andres Metsoja, the chairman of the Riigikogu environment committee, described all these drafts as important and requiring quick action.
"The forestry development plan and the legislation on nature conservation are key drafts, where aspects related to the use and ownership of forests need to be carefully considered. The committee drew attention to the need to provide a system of compensation for owners of land that becomes part of a nature reserve," said Metsoja.
The legislation on single-use packaging entails restrictions on placing single-use plastic products on the market, their labeling, consumption reduction, extended producer responsibility, consumer awareness raising, product design requirements and separate collection. The bill transposes the amendments to the European Union directive, the transposition deadline for which was July 3, 2021.
The new Public Water Supply and Sewerage Act, which is being handled by the Riigikogu, will keep the price of water within certain limits. According to the minister, the planned changes will also improve livelihoods and living conditions in rural areas.
"It is important to ensure people's basic needs such as clean drinking water and sewage at a reasonable and justified price," said the minister.
The amendments to the Nature Conservation Act are to do with the penalties imposed for damage caused to nature, the state's right of pre-emption in the transfer of immovable property located on a protected natural object, and the costs incurred in preventing game damage. The amendments impose a logging ban in protected areas from April 15 to July 15 and prohibit logging based on economic considerations in Natura sites in forest habitat types of Annex I to the Habitats Directive.
In addition, an opportunity is created to conduct a separate Natura impact assessment. The bill also amends the Forest Act and reduces the maximum area of a clear-cut block from seven to five hectares.