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All main services preserve upon merger of Environmental Board and Environmental Inspectorate

Viidumäe looduskaitseala.
Viidumäe. Photo: Kadri Paomees

On 1 January 2021, the Environmental Board and Environmental Inspectorate will start operating as a single agency. The merged agency will bear the name of the Environmental Board.

The function of the agency to be established continues to be the implementation of the environmental use, nature protection and radiation safety policy, and inspection of the implementation of the Acts and standards established for protecting the natural environment. The Environmental Board will also participate in developing and improving the legal acts and other official documents regulating environmental issues. Our sphere of activities is very wide, extending from issue of fishing or waste management authorisations to placement of natural values under protection, declaration of environmental charges, and provision of environmental education programmes.

The principle that remains the same is that we are located close to our customers and close to the places of residence of our employees – although our official postal address is in Pärnu, the 28 offices of the Environmental Board are located all over Estonia. Our regional division of labour (former Northern, Southern and Western region) will cease to exist in its current form, but all the services offered by us, representation in regional cooperation bodies, and supervisory units in counties will preserve.

Customers should, however, bear in mind that instead of visiting an office of the Environmental Board they should rather get in touch with us through e-channels. A large part of the services of the Environmental Board is conveniently available in electronic channels. Since due to the outbreak of COVID-19 a lot of our employees perform remote work at their homes, it is necessary to make a prior appointment to see our official in an office. As the sphere of activities of the Environmental Board is very wide, the official competent to respond to your questions may altogether work on the other side of Estonia. Our officials also provide online counselling and meetings, which is the most preferred method of servicing our customers at the moment.

It will certainly become easier for the customer that instead of two agencies the customer now has only one partner whom to turn to. Although as a result of the establishment of the merged agency the structure of the organisation will undergo certain changes and the work of some departments and offices will be reorganised, the current principles will continue to apply in our customer management. For instance, the fact that in our agency the companies applying for complex integrated permits for environmental use have one contact person who is their main assistant throughout the application and reporting process.

As of the new year, getting in touch with us will become easier. Since 1 January, the Environmental Board will have one general customer service telephone number 662 5999, which responds to queries on any issues related to the Environmental Board.

From 1 January, reports of environmental violations and incidents should be given to the state helpline 1247. This is a single telephone number that operates 24/7 and where it is possible to report of environmental issues, notify of a wild animal who has got into trouble and of an unlawful activity in nature. The Emergency Response Centre will put the single state helpline into service instead of the current 1313 and during the transitional period the calls made to 1313 will be redirected to the new number. 1247 is free of charge for the caller.

The goal set upon establishment of the merged agency was that this is not done merely as the 1+1 operation for the sake of the state reform. The process also involved a review of the current activities and organisation thereof in order to find opportunities for making these more efficient. Thus, the merger is also substantial, not only formal. The goal was to achieve a stronger field-specific competence and more comprehensive cross-sectoral perspective. The comprehensive service perspective also contributes, among other things, to the situation where the departments who are engaged in issuing authorisations and the supervisory function do not interpret legal acts in different ways.

In the future, the new agency also plans to make additional minor changes, some of which are literally formal. For instance, in 2021 environmental inspectors will gradually take over the green field uniform of the Police and Border Guard Board, which suits better for field work.

Every change will of course take time before it has been implemented in full. Thus, in the first weeks the work of the new Environmental Board may also experience minor setbacks, entanglements or errors in our information channels. We are thankful if you provide us with feedback with the help of which we can detect and correct possible faults fast.


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