Ten green reasons to keep environmental approvals from state

GREEN groups say there are 10 reasons why the Abbott Government should abandon its plans to hand over environmental approvals to Queensland, which are currently out for public comment.

The plans, which are currently in draft form, are part of the government's push to remove "green tape" and would hand over the assessment and approvals of mines, ports and large developments to all state governments.

Environment Minister Greg Hunt has maintained the handover would not lower the standards, with states including Queensland forced to meet the national standards.

But a raft of environmental groups, under the banner of the "Places You love Alliance", say the potential for the World Heritage Committee to list the Great Barrier Reef as "in danger" is a key reason why the Commonwealth should maintain its oversight.

Other reasons include the port expansions along the coast, "fast-tracking" of approvals and weakening of land clearing laws, and the re-opening of uranium mining were others.

Alliance director Glen Klatovsky said the state government's "mining development agenda" also meant that coal and CSG projects would be "given the tick without the appropriate regulation and monitoring".

Their concerns were bolstered earlier this year when the state's Auditor-General released an audit showing serious failures in the state environment department and lax enforcement of regulations.

But a spokesman for Mr Hunt said before the handover agreements are settled, which are already in draft form, the state "must demonstrate" their processes meet the standards.

"The states are working closely with the Commonwealth to demonstrate that their environmental assessment and approval processes meet these high environmental standards," he said.

"A strong assurance framework will be implemented to ensure the standards are maintained."

While Mr Hunt's spokesman could not say when the "assurance framework" would be in place, it would be enshrined in the legal agreements to handover the approval powers.

He said the federal minister would also retain the power to "call-in" assessments or approvals of projects and in "extreme circumstances" could suspend or cancel the agreement altogether.Five reasons environmentalists say Queensland should not be given approval powers:

Threats by the World Heritage Committee to list the Great Barrier Reef as 'in danger'.

Five new mega-ports planned along the Great Barrier Reef including the World's biggest coal port less than 50kms from the Whitsunday Islands.

Environmental approvals have been fast-tracked and mining companies given special treatment.

The creation of retrospective legislation snuck through parliament to allow LNP donors to quarry the Brisbane River.

Weakening and repealing land clearing laws and repealing legislation that protects Queensland's Wild Rivers.



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