The air we breathe needs constant protection
The quality of ambient air has direct effect on people and on the environment around us. That is why the air protection work that the State Environmental Board does is primarily directed at preserving a good level of air quality, but it is also strived to improve and maintain that level of quality.
A big part of the work we do is related to issuing ambient air pollution permits, which establish limits on the amount of pollutants emitted into the air by companies, and other environmental conditions. Before issuing such a permit we carry out checks to determine whether a company is using the best available techniques and abatement equipments to reduce emissions. We also analyse the results of companies’ selfmonitoring and, on this basis, assess the need to amend the conditions of the permit. Also, the air quality in regions that are exposed to several and cumulative effects is also monitored. If the pollution level exceeds the limit values then Environmental Board conducts the preparing of the action plan for reducing the emmission levels of pollutants. The parties involved must all follow this action plan.
Once issued with the permit, a company pays a pollution charge which is designed to encourage it to become more environmentally friendly in its operations, and the revenue from which is used to support environment-related projects.
Our requirements also help to shape energy policy, which is aimed at reducing the use of fuels which generate greenhouse gas emissions. Put simply, we do our best to motivate entrepreneurs to use renewable energy sources in place of non-renewable ones. We push them to invest in environmentally sound technology rather than have to pay high pollution charges.
Measuring air pollution
Instruments which measure the level of pollution to a degree of accuracy of one microgram can be used to assess how polluted the ambient air is. However, the Environmental Board also steps in when such analysis cannot be used to determine the level of pollution, or when the pollutant levels are within the norm but there is still an annoying or irritant odour.
Once an expert group has identified the presence of odorous substances, the Environmental Board requires the party causing the pollution to draw up an action plan to reduce and/or eliminate it. Our air protection specialists then analyse the action plan before approving it and presenting the party in question with instructions on how to act.
The pollution permits are valid without end date, in order to minimise the bureaucracy. At the same time, the Environmental Board follows carefully the operations of the company.
Efforts to protect the air are bearing fruit
Between 2003 and 2008, particulate emissions in Estonia fell by 38%. What this means for the country as a whole is around 12,000 tonnes less solid pollution per year. Similar positive downturns can also be seen in the case of other pollutants.
These developments have come about as the result of companies modernising, becoming more environmentally friendly and therefore consuming less energy. We will continue to encourage companies to adopt the best available techniques, to carry out monitoring to rein in their emissions and to use renewable sources of energy.