The new regulations to counteract environmental crime provide for the introduction of a surcharge of up to PLN 10 million for the National Fund for Environmental Protection and Water Management and a fine for storing waste in the forest up to PLN 5,000. The project was submitted for arrangements and public consultations.
It is about a bill amending certain acts to counteract environmental crime, which was published on the website of the Government Legislation Center on Thursday. The proposals were prepared by the Ministry of Climate and Environment and the Chief Inspectorate of Environmental Protection.
“The aim of the proposed regulation is to change the limits of the statutory threat for offenses and crimes against the environment. The project initiator seeks to protect the natural environment against harmful activities that constitute crimes or offenses against the environment” – we read in the regulation impact assessment.
The authors of the draft added that the practice of applying the existing law shows that “the current penal sanctions are insufficient”. Therefore – as emphasized – the regulations should be changed. “The criminal reaction should correspond to the degree of social harmfulness of the act, culpability and the actual reasons for general and individual prevention” – indicated.
The act is to enter into force 14 days after its announcement.
Crime against the environment
The draft proposed a change consisting in the introduction, in the event of a perpetrator being convicted of an offense against the environment, obligatory court adjudication in the amount of PLN 10,000. PLN up to PLN 10 million for the National Fund for Environmental Protection and Water Management.
As it was explained, a painful problem for the state budget and local governments is the costs of disposal of abandoned waste. “These burdens often amount to several dozen million zlotys (e.g. removal of waste illegally accumulated in Gorlice is nearly PLN 49 million). Therefore, among the proposed changes, there is an obligatory obligation on the perpetrators of environmental crimes to pay a premium to the National Fund for Environmental Protection and Water Management in the amount of up to PLN 10 million “- emphasized the authors of the project.
It was indicated that the funds would be used not only to remove the effects of criminal activity, but also to fund various environmental programs aimed at, inter alia, improvement of air or water quality in Poland.
The draft also provides for a different sentence of imprisonment for an act of destroying or damaging an area under protection of plants or animals causing significant damage. “According to the draft, he will be subject to, among others, imprisonment from one to five years” – we read.
According to the draft, from one to 10 years imprisonment will be imposed for contaminating water, air or the earth’s surface with a substance or ionizing radiation in such an amount or in such a form that it may endanger human life or health or cause a significant reduction in the quality of water, air or the surface of the earth or destruction to a significant extent in the plant or animal world. It was added that it is also proposed to increase the amount of imprisonment to 5 years, which can be ordered against the perpetrator of this act acting unintentionally.
Garbage in the forest – penalties
The drafters of the amendment to the act also propose an amendment to the Code of Petty Offenses, which provides for the introduction of a penalty of restriction of liberty for littering the forest or storing waste in the forest. The adjudication of this penalty will result in the obligation for the punished person to perform unpaid controlled work for social purposes. It may also result in the imposition of an obligation to clean the forest of pollutants left behind by itself and other people during the performance of unpaid, controlled work for social purposes.
It was proposed to introduce a fine for littering the forest in the amount of 500 to 5 thousand. zloty. “Such a fine is aimed at preventing the offender from committing it again in the future” – emphasized.
As indicated in the RIA of the draft act, the presented changes are aimed at general and individual prevention and the implementation of the constitutional obligation to protect the environment by public authorities. It is assumed that the change in regulations will result in a decrease in the number of crimes and offenses against the environment, and thus a decrease in the number of cases conducted by law enforcement agencies and courts.
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