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Operational Programmes for Economic Growth and Cohesion Promotion are Environment Friendly

Date

2007 08 23

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Vilnius, August 23. Recently the Operational Programmes for Economic Growth and Cohesion Promotion approved by the European Commission under which almost 85 % of the European Union Structural Assistance funds for the years 2007-2013 will be used, have been developed taking into consideration a comprehensive and reliable information on possible environmental consequences of their implementation.

The Ministry of Finance, before the submission of the programmes for their approval, organised the Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) which was carried out by the Centre for Strategy and Evaluation LLP (CSES) and private limited company Ekonominės Konsultacijos ir Tyrimai. It was the first SEA in Lithuania conducted for strategic documents, which reflects how the environmental issues have been integrated into operational programmes. SEA report presents the review on the current state of the environment, addresses environmental problems and presents recommendations how to solve them; moreover, it predicts effects on the environment, in case the operational programmes are not implemented.

SEA report states that in countries with growing economies, as Lithuania is, it is vitally important to reduce adverse effects on the environment exerted by inordinate use of natural resources. Therefore, we have to learn “to produce more welfare using less natural resources”.

The main environmental problems that will be solved by implementing the operational programmes are the following:

•  Water protection. Unsatisfactory quality of drinking water: due to bad state of pipelines in ground water, enlarged concentration of iron, manganese and fluoride, therefore, it is necessary to renovate about 21 % of total network as soon as possible. About 1 million of inhabitants in the country use water of ground wells and private water wells which usually contains contaminants and does not meet drinking water requirements. Besides, developing water sewerage and waste water treatment infrastructure in large cities, proportionally, amounts of clay appearing during the waste water treatment are increasing. The clay is not properly disposed, only collected, however local governments and water treatment enterprises are not capable to solve this problem individually.

•  Waste management. Over a year, about 5 million tones of innocuous waste and about 120 thousand tones of hazardous waste are produced in Lithuania, while communal waste makes about 1 million tones. The major part of communal waste is not sorted and not used as secondary raw materials. Only 6 % of waste is recycled, and 2.8 % are combusted. More and more waste is eliminated in waste dumps, which do not meet the environment protection requirements and pollute the environment. Amounts of hazardous waste collected in the past and management of areas is a big problem.

• Air quality. Though air quality is satisfactory, in the latter years the air in large cities polluted with particulate matter becomes a problem, which is related to insufficient development of public transport and a growing number of personal cars. Even 75 % of passenger transport vehicles is with service life of more than 10 years. Besides, a number of non-engine transport used is very small.

• Biological diversity and landscape protection. In majority of protected areas (in total covering 15 % of the territory of the country) cognitive tourism and ecological education infrastructure is poorly developed – this severely limits accessibility of values of the protected areas to the society. The landscape of the country is defaced by unused quarries, uncompleted buildings, unused sites, agricultural production centres and other objects. It reduces the country’s recreational potential, attractiveness and causes danger to visitors. Protection of the Baltic seacoast deserves a special attention, as frequent whirlwind storms, the rise of seawater level destroys coasts. The development of sea industry also has a negative impact on coastline formation.

• Territorial planning. General territorial planning documents available in majority of local governments in cities and regions are out-of-date, and this reduces the investors’ possibilities to realise their projects.

• Housing.  The majority (66 %) of Lithuania’s population live in multi-dwelling buildings. A large number of dwellings is unattended and disreputable, constructed before 1990. Their heat insulation features do not meet nowadays needs. Besides, about 70 % of individual dwellings, children education and health care institutions are covered with asbestine roofs, which pose threads to human health.

• More effective use of energy. One of the most serious reasons of ineffective use of energy in Lithuania is that thermal features of the majority of buildings of public use are poor and their heating requires a large amount of energy. Renovation of these buildings is one of the most important tasks.

• Monitoring. The difficulty of a precise and expeditious assessment of the state of the environment is that the environmental monitoring and pollution control system functioning in Lithuania falls behind the economic activity development pace and increasing environmental requirements.

• Public information. The society is poorly informed of environmental problems, and this impedes its participation in the environmental decision-making.

The conclusion of SEA report is that priorities, objectives and tasks of the operational programmes are in line with either the country’s economic development, or strategic environmental provisions. If the operational programmes are not implemented, the rapidly growing economy may exert a negative effect on the environment, and the protected areas may suffer. Water supply, waste water elimination, waste collection prices would increase, however the quality of these services and the environment would not improve. The state of recreational resources would be further worsened by increasing unorganised tourism, and the country would still remain terra incognita due to absence of tourist image. If the investments envisaged in the operational programmes had not reached the environment protection, negative consequences to the environment would arise in quite a short time, and after a certain period of time this would negatively affect the entrepreneurship of the country and the economy.

Information on Programmes for Economic Growth and Cohesion Promotion, Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) and more information related to it you can find on website: www.esparama.lt.

 

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