Project-increasing fines against the environment is ready!

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As emphasized in the Sejm by Deputy Climate Minister Jacek Ozdoba, during the first reading of the bill on amending certain laws to combat environmental crime, this is the largest amendment to the Criminal Code since the 1990s.

He noted that the draft amendment included stricter penalties in the criminal code for illegal imports of hazardous waste, litter, setting fires to landfills and other deliberate crimes against the environment.

As he emphasized, the aim of the changes is to increase the lower and upper limits of criminal liability for crimes against the environment – ​​including jail time of up to 12 years for illegal importation of hazardous waste.

He added that the changes also include the payment of a subsidy to the National Fund for Environmental Protection and Water Management of up to PLN 10 million by entities that illegally import hazardous waste. She noted that criminals have paid a total of 1 million PLN over the past 10 years.

In the case of litter on fields, meadows or forests: “clean up should be mandatory”, and the fines – are increased to 5,000. zloty. “The ministry’s proposals also include new powers for the Chief Inspectorate of Environmental Protection,” he added.

According to Ozdoba, the tightening of regulations leads to the so-called chilling effect, “that is, the specter of the inevitable punishment”, which is expected to reduce the number of criminal acts.

As pointed out by Katarzyna Sójka (PiS), the current sanctions for actions against the natural environment are insufficient, so in the interest of nature this should be changed. She added that funds from increased financial penalties for such violations and crimes will also support environmental protection activities, including educational activities. “It is high time to stop polluting the environment, so it is high time to continue working on the project” – she emphasized.

Bogusław Sonik (KO) said the time has come for a radical fight against crime and crimes against the environment, including the fight against organized crime. On behalf of the KO club, he stated his willingness to continue working on the project.

As Daria Gosek-Popiołek, MP from the left, added, there is a perception in Poland so far that crimes against the environment are irrelevant. She said some entrepreneurs were aware of this, so possible small fines were included in the operating costs. As she emphasized, the project is well managed, but tightening the regulations alone is not enough and you also need tools and resources to track down the perpetrators. “We are in favor of further work on the project and we hope that the proposals from links will be added to the project.”

Grzegorz Braun of the Confederation announced that he would table an amendment to the draft, which provides for the transfer of financial sanctions, not to central institutions, but to local governments.

Anna Mucha from the Poland 2050 circle emphasized that the act is very necessary to fight against junk mafia, among other things. She pointed out that the mere increase in penalties is not enough.

As we read in the justification for the draft, the cost of disposing of abandoned waste is a painful problem for the state budget and local authorities, often amounting to several tens of millions of zlotys. Therefore, if the perpetrator is convicted of an intentional crime against the environment, the court will have to order him an exemption of 10,000 PLN. PLN to PLN 10 million. And if the crime is committed unintentionally, the deductible is optionally charged.

It was written that the money will go to the National Fund for Environmental Protection and Water Management. They will not only be used to mitigate the effects of criminal activities, but will also be used in various environmental programs aimed, among other things, at improving air or water quality in Poland.

The project also includes an increase in the fine for, among other things, pollution of water, air or the earth’s surface with a substance or ionizing radiation, if this can threaten human life or health or a significant reduction in the quality of water, air or the Earth’s surface or cause damage to the plant or animal world – to a significant extent. In that case you risk a prison sentence of 6 months to 8 years.

There will also be increased penalties, e.g. for illegal storage, disposal, processing, recovery, neutralization and transport of wastes that can endanger the life or health of people or a reduction in the quality of water, air, land surface or destruction in the plant or animal world. It carries a prison sentence of one to ten years. It added that the fine for importing or transporting hazardous waste from abroad – without the required notice or permit, or against its terms – will also be increased. It carries a prison sentence of 2 to 12 years.

The minimum and maximum fines for litter in public places will be increased. The maximum fine for removing vegetation by burning farmland, railway yards, roadsides, reeds or rushes is increased to PLN 30,000. zloty.

The liability condition of collective bodies (eg companies) is abolished with regard to the previous and valid conviction of a natural person for an offense against the environment. Currently, this offense must first be legally sentenced to a natural person (for example, the director of the company), so that the company itself is also responsible for the destruction of the environment.

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