ONE of the nation's peak environmental organisations has warned that removing Commonwealth responsibility for the environment could have dire consequences.
The warning from the Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF) comes after Queensland's LNP Premier Campbell Newman suggested that the Commonwealth should leave environmental regulation to the states.
Mr Newman's proposal was in direct contrast to Federal Opposition Leader Tony Abbott, who said he support the current federal framework, but that the regulations should not hinder economic development.
ACF director of strategic ideas Charles Burger said that the reason the Environmental Protection, Biodiversity and Conservation Act was created in the first place was because the states could not be relied upon to act in the national interest to protect the environment.
Mr Newman's proposal comes as the national spotlight this week turned to "green tape" restricting business, after the inaugural Council of Australian Government's Business Advisory Forum was held in Canberra.
Prime Minister Julia Gillard committed to streamlining environmental regulation, but with the Commonwealth maintaining control of over approvals in World Heritage Areas.
But Mr Newman said Ms Gillard's promise were nothing more than "platitudes" and that if the Commonwealth was not going to change the regulatory impost on business and industry, then it should hand over responsibility to the states.
Mr Burger said: "My question is 'What green tape?' there are estimates that the EPBC Act has cost business and industry about $1 billion since it was brought in over 10 years ago.
"To put that into perspective, the cost of traffic congestion nation-wide is estimated at about $7 billion each yeart, so I'm absolutely astonished to hear this is even an issue.
"If anything should be happening to streamline the environmental regulations, the Commonwealth should be stepping up their role and the states should be handing that over to them."