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Comment of the Ministry of the Environment on the campaign of the Federation of Estonian Chemical Industries
One of the goals of the environmental fees is to provide fair remuneration to the taxpayer for taking non-renewable natural resource into use and compensate the negative impact on the human and natural environment arising from economic activities. Since the regulation concerning the environmental fees will expire in 2015, it is necessary to decide the level of fees starting from 2016. While determining the environmental fees, the following is taken into consideration: what is the role of mining fees in influencing the industry and what kind of impact do pollution fees have on the production chain.
Ongoing discussions have been held with the companies over the past several months. At the beginning of September, the Minister of the Environment made a proposal of balanced scenario concerning the change in fees, which would determine the fees for ten years and take into account the environmental maintenance, the need to reduce negative impact and the interests of the industry. According to this, the fees would increase in the range of 3–10%. It would take into account the interests of the local labour market, the natural environment, and the industry as much as possible. The current massive street campaign generates confusion in the context of ongoing constructive discussions and resembles breaking in through an open door at a great speed.
The oil shale sector accounts for 4% of the Estonian GDP and is one of the most important industries in Ida-Viru County. At the same time, Estonia’s most important natural resource extraction and processing greatly affects both the local area and the Government’s use of the environment as a whole. In 2015, the company will compensate 1 euro and 53 cents for extracting one tonne of oil shale. Freezing the environmental fees to this level would mean that the non-renewable assets of taxpayers will be given away at the same price after ten years.
Negative environmental impact may include pollutant emission, water use, influencing water bodies, impact on soil that has been changed forever due to extraction activities, the impact of extraction activities on the inhabitants of the area, either in the form of noise, dust or vibration.