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A Bill amending the Nature Conservation Act passed the first reading in the Riigikogu. It concerns the introduction of alien species into the country and will increase the available rate of fine upon violation of the requirements for the use of alien species.

The Bill on Amendments to the Nature Conservation Act (155 SE), initiated by the Government, will amend the provisions concerning alien species in the Act. The rules arising from European Union law will be implemented with a view to prevent the introduction of invasive species. The Environmental Board will be designated the authority in Estonia empowered to issue permits for keeping, breeding or use, as well as the import, transport and transit of alien species.

The Bill also provides for increase of the rate of the fine for violation of the requirements for the use of alien species to 32 000 euro for legal persons. At present, the fine rate is ten times lower, 3200 euro.

The Bill will also eliminate from the Act the deadline for bringing the protection procedures into conformity with the current Nature Conservation Act. Under the current procedure, according to the Act, all protection rules established before the current Nature Conservation Act would be repealed as of 1 May 2016. There are 190 protected areas with outdated protection rules in Estonia. With the elimination of the deadline, it will be possible to update the protection procedures without time pressure.

Peeter Ernits took the floor during the debate.

The Bill on Amendments to the Railways Act (129 SE), initiated by the Government, passed the first reading in the Riigikogu. The Bill transposes the European Union Directives regulating the establishment of a single EU railway area and the certification of train drivers. The amendments will increase the transparency of the railway market and enhance cooperation with a view to facilitate international rail transport, provide incentives for sound and sustainable financing, and increase the competence of the Competition Authority in Estonia.

The amendments concern in particular railway undertakings who will have to make changes in their business structure as necessary in order to separate the operation of the service facility from other activities. In the notice concerning the network, the railway infrastructure manager will have to provide more specific information on the terms and conditions for the use of railway infrastructure.

The Bill will specify the requirements for the regular interim inspection of train drivers. Language skills will also have be assessed if the language designated for use on the railway by the railway infrastructure manager is not the train driver’s mother tongue. Linguistic knowledge is important in order that the train driver and the dispatcher would definitely understand each other, otherwise dangerous situations may arise due to misunderstandings.

Verbatim record of the sitting (in Estonian): http://stenogrammid.riigikogu.ee/et/201601131400

Video recordings of the sittings of the Riigikogu can be viewed at https://www.youtube.com/riigikogu (NB! The recording will be uploaded with a delay.)

Riigikogu Press Service

Urmas Seaver

T: 631 6352; 50 39 907

urmas.seaver@riigikogu.ee

Queries: press@riigikogu.ee

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