Minister of Environment: we will charge “subscription fees” for illegal fences2014-03-04
The Ministry of Environment is taking a stronger stance on protecting the public's right to use the waterfronts of bodies of water and will find a legal balance between land owners and people coming to visit bodies of water. No such legal balance currently exists, so land owners currently follow their legal responsibilities against their wills.
“The problem appeared a while ago when the waterfronts of certain bodies of water were inappropriately privatized. What happened happened, but in my opinion, the wide-spread enclosure of various bodies of water has to stop. We will establish an 'economic promotion plan' that will ensure that it will no longer be worthwhile,“ said Minister of Environment Valentinas Mazuronis at a press conference.
The Ministry of Environment suggests that combined legal measures be used to regulate waterfronts. The Protected territory legal project aims to revise the requirements for waterfront enclosures by prohibiting not only fences, but also any sort of plant growth or other measures used to prevent individuals from accessing the waterfront. The project also specifically defines the exceptions for which enclosing a waterfront is allowed (for example, in declared pasture areas, heritage sites, parks and other separate green areas, botanical and zoological gardens, dendrological collection territories, and other areas subject to specific territorial care due to safety or public use concerns).
In order to ensure that the new prohibitions do not become an obstacle for agricultural activities, the legal project will allow pastures to be enclosed, but will require that gates or other measures be installed so that their barriers can safely be crossed. The individuals visiting a waterfront will also be responsible for informing the private land owner about their visit and securing their permission. If they do not receive their permission, then the visiting individuals will simply be allowed to pass by the waterfront. The legal project will also ensure that such visitors are responsible for cleaning up after themselves.
“Holidaymakers will also be obligated to clean up after themselves. This measure proved itself with fishermen – each fisherman must collect all the garbage in a 5m radius around themselves. A similar principle will be applied to people relaxing near bodies of water,” - added Vice-Minister of Environment Linas Jonauskas.
These changes will help ensure that waterfronts will not be polluted and that violators would not be able to avoid their responsibilities by saying that the garbage at the waterfront had been left by someone else (the act of leaving the garbage behind does not have to be proved).
The Ministry of Environment will also offer the Government suggestions for revising its conditions of use for special lands and forests. When the provisions of the Protected territory law and of other laws are implemented, the agricultural measures that are prohibited and allowed within surface water and waterfront protection zones will be added to and revised.
In order to strengthen the impact of these legal measures, the calculation methods used to evaluate environmental damage will be improved as well. The calculation method for environmental damage caused by destroying or damaging natural landscape complexes and objects will count 500 Lt in fines for a single linear meter of fencing that encloses a body of water, interferes with that body of water's ecological functions, affects the waterfront's natural landscape or aesthetic characteristics, impedes animal migrations or otherwise damages the environment.
The amount of time for which the damage has been done will also affect the compensation calculations. Violators who have erected enclosures within waterfront protection zones will be forced to remove their violations as soon as possible, because their fines will increase with every month that the enclosure remains up.
The Minister of Environment announced that the “subscription payment” for fences will come into effect starting in May. “We've left an appropriate period of time for owners to get rid of their illegal structures. Later, we will be forced to take certain measures,” - said V. Mazuronis.
Public Information Division