Fed water decision could be ‘useless’

Conservationists are worried federal environment minister Tony Burke’s decision to use the federal environment law to protect water resources from coal seam gas projects will count for nothing if final approval powers for big developments are handed to state governments.

The Places You Love alliance has today run an advertisement in a major daily newspaper calling on Minister Burke to remove from federal law any possibility of environmental approval powers being handed to states.

The ad says a ‘battle is raging over the protection of the places and wildlife Australians love’.

‘State governments and industry are demanding [the government] hand over federal environmental approval powers to fast track destructive developments.

‘[Minister Burke’s] decision to make underground water a federal issue is a good one, but won’t change anything if final approval powers are handed to the states.

‘Federal environmental laws have saved iconic places from destruction in the past. And they will be needed again – just ask people living in the Kimberley or along the Great Barrier Reef.’

Recent polling by Lonergan Research found 85 per cent of Australians believe the Federal Government should be able to block or make changes to major projects that could damage the environment.

The alliance is urging Minister Burke to act now to remove the part of our national environmental law that makes this handover of power possible.

More than 35 organisations are part of the Places You Love alliance, which works for stronger environment laws. More than 10,000 people wrote to PM Julia Gillard at the end of 2012 and in February more than 6,400 people sent the prime minister a Valentine’s Day message calling on her to ‘protect the laws that protect the places and wildlife we love’.

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