The country's Water Act and Waste Act are in the process of getting updates to reduce the size of the no-build zone around wastewater treatment plants, but a newspaper has linked the legislative progress to one specific piece of property and one businessman.
Äripäev reported that the amendments would be beneficial to Margus Linnamäe, who is planning to develop a 50-hectare seaside project on Paljassaare peninsula in Tallinn. The newspaper said Linnamäe made a 10,000-euro donation to IRL, the Reform Party's partner in government, a day before the draft legislation was introduced.
In an ETV segment aired on Tuesday, the drafters of the amendments denied a link or knowledge of Linnamäe's plans, and said the rationale is that 60,000 people in Estonia suffer from wastewater odors.
Tõnis Kõiv of Parliament's Environmental Affairs Committee, the leading advocate of the amendments, told ETV that reducing the size of the zone from a radius of 300 meters to 5-150 meters, rather than exposing more people to foul smells, would force treatment plants to invest in better equipment.
Water enterprises disagree. Pärnu Water director Leho Võrk said it was "not reasonable" compared with other measures, and Hans Liibek of the Association of Water Utilities said the investments required would probably raise the price of water 5-10 percent in Tallinn. Skeptics have said the increase could be much higher.
The draft laws were voted down in the first reading on Tuesday but the drafters will submit proposed changes on December 3.