Labor looks at retaining sliver of green tape

THE federal government is considering retaining some last-resort powers when it cedes control of environmental decisions to the states, as opposition mounts to a total handover.

It is in the process of striking deals that will have each state take over responsibility for environmental assessments and approvals, after they agree to meet specific standards and conditions.

The Environment Minister, Tony Burke, will have the power to terminate the agreement if a state is not sticking to the deal.

Under the original promise to end ''green tape'', he was not going to be able to override state decision-making on any particular project.

Environmentalists have argued the deals will strip the federal government of the powers that allowed it to intervene in environmental disputes such as the Franklin River one.

A Galaxy poll of 1074 voters commissioned by the Greens found 59 per cent were opposed to the federal government handing over powers to make decisions about world heritage areas, with only 19 per cent supporting the idea and 22 per cent uncommitted.

Fairfax Media understands talks between the federal government and the states are now canvassing the former retaining a power of last resort in limited circumstances, for example over matters involving world heritage sites.

Some states are willing to countenance the idea, but fear concessions could eventually lead to micro-management.

This story Labor looks at retaining sliver of green tape first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.