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The Cultural Affairs Committee discussed the Heritage Conservation Bill at its meeting today. The purpose of the Bill is to improve the conservation of cultural heritage. To this end, the duties and rights of the state and those of the owner of a monument need to be balanced.

The Chairman of the Committee Aadu Must explained that heightened requirements have been set to the activities and work relating to monuments, and that currently the weight of these falls almost exclusively to the owners. “These compulsory activities can be extremely costly and it would therefore be good for the state to assume some of the responsibilities and to help compensate for the costs,” Must said.

Member of the Committee Viktoria Ladõnskaja-Kubits pointed out that under the proposed Act the state will compensate to the owners of a protected building the part of the specialised activities, i.e. studies and heritage surveillance. “In 2019, and extra 1.4 million euros has been set aside for compensating surveillance and studies to the owners who are planning restoration work on their monuments,” Ladõnskaja-Kubits said.

In addition, the Bill should make the decision making more flexible for the owners, contribute more to advisory and prevention activities, and strengthen the protection of archaeological heritage. The planned reform will first and foremost serve private owners, who own 80 per cent of protected buildings. Monetary compensation, advising and mitigation of restrictions applies to all the monument categories.

The Bill would also change the name of the National Heritage Board, because it will also become the agency governing the museums. The Deputy Chairman of the Committee Laine Randjärv said that the bringing together of museums and heritage protection will improve developmental capabilities. She stressed that the new name was yet to be decided. “The decision we made today to send the Bill to its first reading does not mean that the text is complete,” Randjärv said. “The Bill still needs work and we fully expect to receive motions to amend.”

The Committee heard presentations of the Bill from the Minister of Culture Indrek Saar, as well as Adviser on Cultural Heritage Liina Jänes and Head of Legal Affairs and Property Management Department Merle Põld from the Ministry of Culture.

The Committee decided to submit the Heritage Conservation Bill (684 SE) to the first reading at the plenary sitting of the Riigikogu on 26 September.

Riigikogu Press Service
Merilin Kruuse
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