Ministry of Environment has fulfilled its tasks2011-01-05
Last year, the Ministry of Environment fulfilled all the tasks laid down in the strategic action plan.
This resulted in the active absorption of EU funds, the expansion of the waste management system, reduced restrictions for individuals and businesses in the fields of the issue of construction permits and land use planning, and progress in modernising apartment blocks under the JESSICA financial instrument.
"Speaking about the absorption of EU funds, I can say that we have achieved our objectives by more than 100 percent. In the waste management system, the producer responsibility and polluter pays principle is undergoing reform, and the tasks of stage one (closure of old landfills and installation of new ones) are successfully nearing completion as planned. Equally important are essential changes in land use planning, involving the reduction of bureaucratic restrictions for individuals and businesses and the acceleration of the decision making process," says Minister of Environment Gediminas Kazlauskas, summarising last year's activity results.
In 2010, the Ministry of Environment overfulfilled the State Investment Programme part contained in the State budget, posting 104.9 percent. Although the plan of EU support included LTL 674 mln., the Ministry received LTL 707 mln.
The waste management system is undergoing essential reform, which involves abandoning the formal and defective system of statements on the settlement of waste management and reforming the producer responsibility principle. This adds to the increased transparency of the system and ensures real waste management. A clearly defined responsibility of regional waste management centres (together with local municipalities) for waste management infrastructure is a separate element of reform of the system. In 2010, Lithuania's regions received almost LTL 450 mln. of EU support for infrastructure development (waste sorting and recycling facilities), and are now entering the second stage of the waste management system development.
The consistent reduction of bureaucratic restrictions for individuals and businesses includes essential amendments made to the Law on Construction and the drafting of a completely new version of the Law on Land Use Planning. The first law simplifies the process of construction and solves the issue of the destruction and legitimisation of buildings that are being or have been built arbitrarily. The second law introduces essential changes in land use planning where simplified requirements allow shortening the planning procedure from 16 to 3 months on a case-by-case basis. It is estimated that the duty for preparing detailed plans is eliminated in 80 percent of all cases, while facilities of state importance are subject to a special procedure. Also, the political aspect that is often noticed in the land use planning procedures (especially in the development of commercial activities) has been eliminated by transferring the decision-making power from municipality councils to municipality officials.
In the field of modernisation of apartment blocks, the Ministry has enlarged the number of entities participating in the programme, increased compensations for the preparation of apartment block modernisation projects and maintenance costs up to 100% and drafted a number of other laws, making the programme more attractive and accessible to the public.
The JESSICA financial instrument, which has received a favourable evaluation on the EU scale, was in fact launched only in autumn (when the bank Šiaulių Bankas began distributing EU support for modernisation of apartment blocks). In late December, there were 63 apartment block associations that had already made decisions to take part in the new programme (the target in the 2010 Government performance evaluation indicators was 50 apartment blocks). The forecast by the Housing and Urban Development Agency inspires the hope that by the end of 2011 there will be hundreds rather than tens of new participants.
According to Minister G. Kazlauskas, the evaluation of the Ministry's performance in 2010 based on objective statistics increases the motivation of people employed in the field of environmental protection and encourages them to aim at even better results.
Mr. Kazlauskas says that the task set for 2011 is optimising the activities of institutions subordinate to the Ministry (including forest enterprises), with a view to achieving a consistent increase in return from the property managed by public enterprises. The effectiveness of the management and supervision of protected areas will also be subject to evaluation, and local municipalities and communities will be provided with opportunities to take a more active part in implementing the objectives of protected areas. Priority in the apartment block modernisation programme will be given to a reduction of heating costs through a more efficient use of individuals' funds and State aid.
Ministry of Environment information, tel.: 2191869
05 January 2011