Reform MP: Environmental Board task still unfinished

Heiki Kranich
Heiki Kranich Source: Siim Lõvi /ERR

The Riigikogu is starting to discuss draft legislation on Tuesday which would allow building houses only dozens of meters away from a shoreline. The state wants to give local governments more decision-making power, but nature conservationists fear restrictions on the free movement of the public along the shorelines, as well as the impact on the natural world.

Meelis Tambets, a member of the board of the Estonian Center for Nature Conservation, told ETV morning program "Terevisioon" that as a result of the new bill, the Estonia's landscape may be transformed.

"The environmental impact will fall on these shores and beaches, which are hugely valuable ecosystems and 'green corridors'; there are also geological features and landscape elements - Estonia is changing beyond recognition."

However, one of the initiators of the bill, Reform MP Heiki Kranich, found that the shoreline zones vary, while in Tallinn the officials do not know how to give such a competent assessment of the effects in the way that local government could.

"I do not share this apocalyptic approach," Kranich told Tambets. He also disagrees, as if it were one party's business interests: "If you look at who initiated the bill, they hail from four different parties."

Tambets pointed out the public concern that if houses are built near a body of water, there will no longer be a shoreline in essence. On the one hand, people do not want to walk through someone's front-lawn barbecue area, and on the other, a landowner has a legitimate expectation to restrict the passage of people on their territory.

Kranich said that the amendment to the law is necessary in order to give local governments more decision-making power. The draft would harmonize the present definition of a construction prohibition zone with that of a water protection zone, which could be extended by local governments.

"In fact, Estonian beaches are extremely varied. There are places where the 200 meters in Saaremaa today is more than enough, while 100 meters in Lääne County is not sufficient. But there are definitely places where there are not so many protected values, and you could build closer there."

Meanwhile, Kranich claimed that the Environmental Board has not done anything for more than 20 years in ensuring that people do not violate current law in any case.

As the Ministry of the Environment has not received any proposals to resolve the situation for decades, the bill has been initiated by the Environmental Affairs Committee of the Riigikogu.

The initiated draft reshapes the protection of natural values ​​on the shore and shore of the water body, eases the existing ownership restrictions arising from the Nature Conservation Act, reduces the number and scope of restrictions without compromising the protection of important natural values ​​or resources.


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Editor: Roberta Vaino

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