The Environmental Inspectorate has drawn up plans to increase the maximum amount it can charge in fines for violations of the law.
Chairman of the Estonian Environmental Inspectorate Olav Avarsalu told ERR the Inspectorate receives 90 percent of the fines imposed. However, he believes the current upper limit of the fine is out of date and new plans have been drawn up.
"Penalty fines of tens of thousands of euros may no longer be effective. Therefore, the rate could also be raised to the hundreds of thousands," Avarsalu said.
He added: "The debate is underway and sooner or later it will reach the Riigikogu, which will have to make those decisions."
The inspectorate opened over 1,200 misdemeanors for environmental offenses last year. Of those, 232 misdemeanour proceedings were initiated in the area of waste which had received special attention. Most complaints were about air quality, but the inspectorate's biggest concern is about the waste sector.
"We are talking about temporary storage of both construction and demolition waste and leaving it somewhere on the site. In the case of mixed municipal waste, there should be no effective separation and recycling. The state is facing problems here," he said.
One of the environmental inspectorate's priorities this year is the Muuga-Maardu air study.
However, in the view of the environmental inspectorate, the forest sector is well controlled and sees fewer violations compared with other areas. "Violations are not intentional, but happen due to recklessness, but not with a large environmental impact. Compared to the picture of a couple of decades ago, the situation is very different," Avarsalu said.
However, Avarsalu believes social attitudes are changing and people have developed an aversion towards logging methods that however become lighter.
"Soft winters have definitely influenced it. It means that the total of logging has remained the same, but ig is being carried out in front of people's eyes, either by the roadside or near homes. This amplifies the emotional impact of cutting," he said.
Editor: Roberta Vaino