Abbott's new environmental standards for major projects

NEW standards for environmental assessments will help complete the Abbott Government's plans to hand over approvals of major projects to the states.

The standards, released last week by Environment Minister Greg Hunt, will see state and territory governments accredited to approve mines on behalf of the Commonwealth.

Mr Hunt said the standards, which will remove the current two-step process, would deliver a boost to the nation's economy, while ensuring the environment was protected.

"This is to ensure high standards of environmental protection continue to be maintained," he said.

"Each state and territory may achieve the standards through their own regulatory systems and processes, but this must be consistent with the requirements of national environment law."

But Queensland Greens Senator Larissa Waters said the standards would sideline the community, by not guaranteeing the same levels of community consultation.

"State governments have an appalling track record on environmental protection - that's why federal environmental oversight was first brought in more than 30 years ago," she said.

"Development approval decisions are notoriously political and at the state level they're highly influenced by royalties and donations, often at the expense of environmental assets that underpin biodiversity, agriculture and tourism."

She said the standards document showed state governments would be able to "get away with less community consultation" on major projects.

While the standards did not reduce the consultations required by the federal government, it would mean only one consultation period was required, at the state level, rather than for both levels of government.


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