The national environmental protection system was created and is based upon
Lithuania's sovereignty over its natural resources, focussing on the
preservation of the environment. Article 53 of the Constitution of the Republic
of Lithuania establishes that "the State and each individual must protect the
environment from harmful influences". Article 54 of the Constitution
establishes that "the State shall concern itself with the protection of the
natural environment, its fauna and flora, separate objects of nature and
particularly valuable districts, and shall supervise its moderate utilisation
and augmentation. The exhaustion of land and entrails of the earth, the
pollution of water and air, the production of radioactive impact, as well as
the impoverishment of fauna and flora, shall be prohibited by law."
The 21 March 1991 Law No. I-1163 of the Republic of Lithuania "On Taxes on
State Natural Resources";
The 21 January 1992 Law No. I-2223 of the Republic of Lithuania "On
The 7 October 1992 Law No. I-2944 of the Republic of Lithuania "On Taxes on Oil
and Gas Resources";
The 22 November 1994 Law No I-671 of the Republic of Lithuania "On Forests";
The 5 July 1995 Law No. VIII-573 of the Republic of Lithuania "On Underground";
The 16 August 1996 Law No. I-1495 of the Republic of Lithuania "On
Environmental Impact Assessment of Planned Economic Activities";
The 16 June 1998 Law No. VIII-787 of the Republic of Lithuania "On Handling of
The 13 May 1999 Law No. VIII-1183 of the Republic of Lithuania "On Taxes for
Pollution of the Environment";
The 4 November 1999 Law No. VIII-1392 of the Republic of Lithuania "On
Protection of Air";
The 25 September 2001 Law No. IX-517 of the Republic of Lithuania "On
Management of Packaging and Packaging Waste".
The principal institutions involved in regulation and administration of
environmental matters are as follows:
The Ministry of Environment;
The Ministry of Agriculture;
County Governors; and
Regulation of Economic Activities
Assessment of Environmental Impact
According to Article 15 of the Law on Environmental Protection, legal and
natural persons who plan to engage in economic activities must, at their own
expense, prepare and submit to appropriate institutions the documents
concerning possible impact of their economic activities on the environment. The
environmental impact assessment is carried out in accordance with the Law on
Environmental Impact Assessment of Planned Economic Activities.
Project Approval and Construction
Article 16 of the Law on Environmental Protection established that legal and
natural persons designing the construction, reconstruction or expansion of any
objects which are likely to have an effect on the environment must provide in
the project documentation the measures for rational use of natural resources
and for avoiding negative effects on the environment. Such project
documentation must be co-ordinated with relevant municipal institutions and the
Ministry of Environment. No construction work may be performed without
co-ordinated approval by appropriate regulatory institutions.
Permit to Use Natural Resources
Article 19 of the Law on Environmental Protection requires that legal and
natural persons must obtain a permit for the use of natural resources and
discharge of pollutants into the environment prior to starting their commercial
operations. Legal and natural persons are required to conduct their commercial
operations pursuant to the conditions established in the permit for the use of
natural resources and discharge of pollutants into the environment, and may not
exceed established norms and standards of environmental protection.
When conducting commercial operations that are potentially hazardous to the
environment, persons must, at their own expense, monitor the degree of
environmental pollution and its impact on the environment, ensure public
availability of this information and capacitate pollution control. In addition,
persons conducting commercial operations must keep records of the use of
natural resources and discharge of pollutants in the manner established by laws
and other legal acts. Finally, persons conducting commercial operations which
do not require a permit for the use of natural resources and discharge of
pollutants in to the environment must follow the applicable environmental
protection norms and standards.
The principal particular purpose of land utilisation is established in the
territorial land use-planning documentation. Land users who wish to use the
land for a purpose other than that established must receive a permission from
the governor of the county in which the land plot is located. The person
seeking the change in status must compensate losses incurred by the State
because of the change of the status of agricultural land, except as otherwise
established under laws and other legal acts.
Investigation and Exploitation of Underground Areas and Resources
Underground areas are owned exclusively by the State. Exploitation,
investigations and utilisation of underground resources may be performed on the
basis of the permits issued pursuant to the procedures established by the Law
on Underground and other legal acts. Such permits can be granted to legal and
natural persons by the Government of the Republic of Lithuania or the public
institution authorised by the Government.
Point of Interest
Legal and natural persons must provide the Geological Survey of Lithuania with the data on the underground that was acquired in the course of investigations of the underground or during the utilisation of underground resources, except for the data on indirect investigations that have been carried out without using State funds.
Protection of Forests
Currently, most Lithuanian forestland belongs to the State. Forests are
classified into four groups to distinguish their cultivation purposes and
regime as well as their functionality.
Laws regulate the use of forestlands for timber production as well as other
purposes such as gathering of mushrooms and herbs. Timber production is
regulated to ensure a constant supply and maintain a proper balance between new
growth and harvested timber. Annual timber harvesting standards are established
for each forest by its manager and/or owner according to the methodology
approved by the Ministry of Environment.
Point of Interest
Individuals may unreservedly enter and utilise natural resources (such as gathering of mushrooms, medicinal herbs and the like) of both State and private forests (except certain types of forests provided in laws (e.g. reserves)), subject to the requirements established in relevant legal acts.
Use of Water Resources
Subject to the criteria established for issuance of permits for the use of
natural resources, a permit for the use of water resources must be obtained by
persons wishing to extract water from surface or ground water bodies or
discharge household, industrial waste-water and waste-water from other types of
economic activities, or to use water bodies for various other needs
(navigation, hydro-technological facilities, fishery etc.).
Permits for the use of water resources are granted for a period of up to 5
years by a respective Regional Environmental Protection Department at the
Ministry of Environment.
A permit for the use of water resources includes the following parts:
Waste-water may be discharged into the natural environment only in instances
when it does not exceed the limits for pollution as approved by the Ministry of
water taking, consumption, supply;
monitoring of environment.
It is prohibited to pollute water bodies or ice cover with household, industrial
or other waste, as well as with oil products, toxic chemicals, fertilisers,
radioactive and other harmful substances. The discharge into ground water,
underground cavities or karstic potholes is also prohibited. Ice may be used
only if this does not reduce the stock of water resources in the water body or
deteriorate its quality.
Protection of Air
The Law on Protection of Air addresses two types of pollution of air:
stationary and mobile sources of pollution.
The users of stationary pollution sources are obliged to obtain a permission
according to the conditions and procedures established by the Ministry of
Environment. When it is intended to construct objects that may be considered as
stationary pollution sources, legal and natural persons are obliged to
establish measures minimising the pollution of air.
Natural and legal persons (producers, importers, traders) are obliged to use
the fuel that satisfies the quality and composition requirements established by
Ministries of Environment, Communications and Economy.
The Ministry of Environment establishes the quantities for emission of
contaminants from a stationary pollution source, approves the rules on
evaluation of quality of air and exercises a continuous control over the
agglomerations where the pollution limits are or may be exceeded.
Lithuania has ratified a number of international agreements concerning
protection of the Earth's ozone layer and elimination of the "greenhouse
Article 4 of the Law on Handling of Waste provides that the producer of waste
or the entity or person storing waste must properly handle the waste or
transfer it to a waste manager. In both cases, the cost of waste management is
the responsibility of the producer or custodian of the waste.
The Law on Waste Handling sets forth certain additional requirements in respect
of enterprises holding permissions to utilise natural resources. In particular,
Articles 6 and 15 establish special procedures for termination of activities of
such enterprises; activities may only be finalised in accordance with a plan as
approved by the Ministry of Economy.
Article 32 of the Law on Waste Handling provides for certain economic measures
relating to waste management. In order to encourage waste prevention and
accumulate funds to be used for waste management, the law mentions taxes on
materials, products and packaging that contribute to the creation of waste.
Such taxes may be introduced under separate laws of the Republic of Lithuania.
Point of Interest
From 1 January 2003 the Law on Management of Packaging and Packaging Waste will come into force. Pursuant to this law, producers and importers that will not meet relevant criteria relating to collection, recycling and reuse of packaging and packaging waste will be obliged to pay a tax for pollution of the environment with product waste.
Taxes on State-Owned Natural Resources
According to the Law on Taxes on State Natural Resources, natural and legal
persons that utilise the State's natural resources are taxed for their use. The
rates of taxation for particular types of natural resources are established by
the Government of the Republic of Lithuania (taxation on oil and gas is set
separately, as described below).
Taxes on Oil and Gas Resources
The Law on Taxes on Oil and Gas Resources provides for the taxation of natural
and legal persons that are given the right to exploit oil and gas resources in
the territory of Lithuania or in the economic zone of the Republic of Lithuania
in the Baltic Sea. The basic tax rate is 20% of the price of oil and gas, which
may not be less than the price determined by the Government of the Republic of
Taxes for Pollution of Environment
The Law on Tax for Pollution of Environment provides that tax rates are fixed
every 5 years for groups of pollutants based on their hazardous impact on the
environment. The listing of pollutants and their grouping is a responsibility
of the Government of the Republic of Lithuania and its authorised institutions.
The Law on Tax for Pollution of Environment also abolishes the application of
increased and reduced tax rates for environmental pollution. In cases of
successful application of measures to reduce pollutant emissions more than 10%
with respect to the maximum allowed pollution standards, the law provides for a
tax - holiday from the particular pollutant's tax for a period of up to 3
years. If the established pollution standard is exceeded, the responsible
person has to pay a fine established by the law.
Point of Interest
The Law on Tax for Pollution of Environment provides for annually increasing tax rates.
Sanctions for violation of environmental protection requirements in Lithuania
are provided for in civil, administrative and criminal law.
If natural resources are utilised without a permission, an entity must pay
applicable taxes based on the amount of resources used plus a fine calculated
under the established procedure.
The Code of Violations of Administrative Law of the Republic of Lithuania
defines various offences relating to environmental pollution and sets
administrative penalties. The violations, including unauthorised excessive
pollution or emissions, are penalised by fines up to LTL 10,000 (approximately
EUR 2,896) depending on the type of pollutant and the extent of contamination.
The Criminal Code of the Republic of Lithuania provides for criminal sanctions
for the pollution of water, land and air which vary from monetary penalties of
up to LTL 6,250,000 Litas (approximately EUR 1,810,125) to imprisonment for up
to 5 years.
Point of Interest
A large number of officers from various institutions are given the authority to impose sanctions for the violation of environmental protection laws.