Newman Government to have power to approve uranium mining

THE Queensland Government will be in charge of approving uranium mining proposals in the Sunshine State, under a deal reached over environmental approvals with the Commonwealth.

Officials with the Federal Environment Department told Senate Estimates about details of the deal in Canberra on Monday.

It comes after the state and federal government recently signed a memorandum of understanding to handover Commonwealth environmental assessments to the state governments.

Such assessments are enshrined in Commonwealth environmental laws designed to protect "matters of national environmental significance".

While the official terms of the deal are yet to be finalised, public servants said it would include handing over approval powers for uranium mines and Commonwealth waters.

It would also give the state government the final say on assessing and approving its own projects, such as dams or other state government infrastructure developments.

While the Federal Government has earlier ruled out nuclear-related approvals, senior officials said such projects would know be assessed by the Queensland Government.

Under questioning from Queensland Greens senator Larissa Waters, officials revealed the deal would see both assessments and approvals for such project be handled by the state.

Senator Waters said the deal put "the fox in charge of the henhouse", with state governments able to propose, assess and approve their own projects.

"State governments have a direct conflict of interest when it comes to approving their own projects or that of their government owned corporations, such as huge dams and industrial port developments," she said.

"If state governments had this free reign in the past, both the Franklin and Traveston dams would have gone ahead, despite the lasting environmental damage they would have inflicted."

Environment Minister Greg Hunt has previously said while the handover would help reduce duplication of approvals, it would still ensure the same assessment processes remain.

The final deal and its terms have not been completed.