CANBERRA, Dec. 13 (Xinhua) -- The states and territories of Australia on Friday signed deals with the commonwealth to streamline the environmental approving process for major projects, a decision slammed by the Greens and environmental groups.
Prime Minister Tony Abbott signed the agreements with the state premiers and chief ministers in Canberra at the end of the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) meeting, Abbott's first, on Friday.
COAG agreed deregulation would remain a key goal, with all states, including Labor administrations, resolving to put in place the Coalition's plan to streamline environment approvals with so- called "one-stop-shops" at state level.
Under agreements in place, the states will do all environmental assessment work on major projects.
The states of New South Wales and Queensland have gone further, agreeing to sign bilateral agreements to assess and approve projects.
The decision was attacked by the Greens and some environment groups, which claimed it will sacrifice the country's natural environment.
"States and territories have all made dodgy deals with Tony Abbott today to slash federal environment protection," said Senator Larissa Waters, Australian Greens environment spokesperson.
"These deals pave the way for Tony Abbott to abolish a 30-year- old federal safeguard for our most precious natural places and wildlife," she said.
The Wilderness Society, an environmental protection group, said in a statement that the "one-stop shop environmental assessments will "trash investor confidence in Australia."
"The federal government must drop its moves to hand environmental assessment and approval powers to the state and territory governments if it wants to improve certainty for business and avoid lengthy legal battles and delays," the Wilderness Society warned.
"Cash-strapped states don't have the resources nor it seems the will to run rigorous environmental approval processes," the society's National Campaigner Glen Klatovsky said.