1.5 million greenies want tougher federal laws

CSG protesters in action
CSG protesters in action

GREEN groups representing 1.5 million supporters have called on the major political parties to ensure federal environment laws remain in Commonwealth hands.

After a national summit of environmental groups on Wednesday, the five major organisations signed an open letter to all politicians.

The letter calls on all parties to not only keep Commonwealth approval powers in federal hands, but asks for the laws to be made stronger.

Groups including the WWF Australia, Birdslife Australia, Australian Conservation Foundation, Wilderness Society and state organisations signed the letter.

It calls on all political parties to ensure national parks, world heritage areas and other significant areas are protected from "threats posed by reckless state governments", in the lead-up to the election.

The statement comes after Prime Minister Kevin Rudd also recently re-pened the political discussion on the handover of federal powers to the states.

During an address to the National Press Club, Mr Rudd said the duplication of environmental approvals needed to be addressed, indicating he was open to talks with the business community.

But green groups were not satisfied and sent letters direct to Mr Rudd and Opposition Leader Tony Abbott voicing concerns about land clearing and the Great Barrier Reef in Queensland.

The statement, released this week, also voiced the environmental lobby's concerns about recent draft environmental law changes in New South Wales.

"We believe the environment can be properly protected and greater efficiencies can be achieved with federal approvals and more efficient assessments," the letter reads.

"We call on business to reconsider its position on this issue, because a handover of federal approval powers to the states will result in widespread community opposition, court cases and reputational damage to companies."

The letter also said green groups would be monitoring the response from politicians to their call for more extensive environmental protections.

Topics:  environment green groups nature wildlife

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