The aim is to ensure compliance and provide incentives for pollution reduction.
Discharges of organic matter, phosphoruous, nitrogen, suspende dsolids, sulphates and other pollutants along with wastewaters where pH value is greater than 9 or less than 6, are subject to the charge.
Baic rates (0,377 euro per kg of phosphorus, 0.235 euro per kg of nitrogen) can be increased 1.2 to 2.5 times depending on the sensitivity of the recipient (Speck et al, 2004). Type and sensitivity of recipient waters can also lead to a decrease in rates (2 to 3 times), and the same applies to the level of polluters compliance with regulations. Non-compliance fees, however, are 10 times the effluent charge for discharges above permitted levels and 15 times the basic charge without a permit. Exemptions
Exemptions and refunds are in place for discharges the implement polllution abatemetn measures with verifiable results.
The Estonian cabinet decided to increase environmental fees, particularly on "major polluters and large-scale users of natural resources, the biggest of which is the oil shale energy sector". It agreed a new environmental fees act at the end of June 2005, bringing together several regulations and establishing fees for the period 2006-2009. Existing fees have had lower environmental effects than expected, "as a result of inflation and other factors" (ENDS, 2005)
Over the 18 years that they have been used, the environmental fees have contributed 4.3 billion kroons to the state budget, which has been invested in the environmental protection of Estonia. A range of projects have been supported, including the construction of a large number of waste water treatment plants and utilities, drinking water pipelines, waste disposal sites and more.
The environmental fees have motivated companies to contribute ever more to the development of environmentally sparing technology, with new machinery and equipment now in use in such areas as the treatment of oil shale residue and the production of heating energy.
However, the rate of inflation in recent years has weakened the effect of the fees, which no longer provide adequate motivation from the point of view of environmental protection.
To clarify future directions in the development of the fees the Ministry of the Environment has begun work on an environmental fee concept which will form the basis for establishing fee rates for the period 2010-2015 and amending the Environmental Fee Act.
Four working groups will be convened by the Ministry of the Environment for the development of the concept, looking at mineral resources, water, waste or air. The amendments to the act should enter force in 2010, with the principles of the concept agreed upon until 2015 (Ministry for the Environment, 2008).
Ministry for the Environment, 2008. http://www.envir.ee/1054087
Speck,S., Braswell, J., Markovic, M and McNicholas, J. 2004. Market-based Instruments for Water Pollution Managemetn: An Assessment of International Approaches. Paper presented at Fifth Annual Global Conference on Environmental Taxation, Pavia, Italy, 9-11 September 2004.
Environment Daily 1924, 01/08/05