At today’s August 30th meeting, the government approved the draft of the new Heritage Conservation Act and will send it to the Riigikogu for further discussion and decision-making. The new Heritage Conservation Act will greater a greater balance between the responsibilities of the owners and state in this field of activity and will pay more attention to the needs of the owners.
“The current Heritage Conservation Act is clearly outdated. Heritage can be conserved best when it is being used. Therefore, functioning cooperation has to be established with the owners of cultural property. Heritage conservation can be much more inclusive and supportive as well as help to prevent problems. The law increases the balance between the responsibilities of the state and the owners,” said Minister of Culture Indrek Saar.
During the negotiations regarding the state’s budgetary strategy that occurred in the spring of 2017, the government allocated €1.4 million annually for implementing the changes starting in 2019. This will be used to provide direct supports to owners that want to fix up heritage properties. The financing is intended specifically for the partial reimbursement of costs that exceed those incurring in ordinary restoration jobs, and the costs related to financing the research and supervision of heritage conservation.
When the new law is enacted, the work of the National Heritage Board will also be reorganised. In the future, the Board will jointly coordinate the fields of heritage conservation and museums. In addition to cultural monuments, the reorganised Board will also deal with museums and their collections. A significant change prescribed in the draft will introduce more flexibility into restoration and construction activities. The specific provisions related to heritage conservation, which are currently commissioned and financed by the owners of the monuments, will be provided by the Board based on research studies. In addition, the state will turn more of its attention to consultation and prevention activities. The activities of heritage conservation workers will be focused more on providing advice and the Board will help owners become knowledgeable clients. In the new law, emphasis is also placed on the stricter regulation of activities related to archaeological finds, in order to prevent looting and illegal trading with culturally valuable objects.
The Riigikogu will start discussing the new draft of the Heritage Conservation Act. The Ministry of Culture would like to see the draft enacted as law by 1 January 2019.