Burke approves Alpha mine, attacks Newman

Gina Rinehart's Alpha coal mega-mine is another step closer but the bitter feud between the Queensland and federal governments over resource projects shows no sign of ending.

Federal Environment Minister Tony Burke launched an attack on the Queensland premier's development stance on the same day he approved the GVK-Hancock Coal multibillion-dollar Alpha coal mine in central Queensland.

Mr Burke said the federal government wouldn't submit to Campbell Newman's request for it to "get out of the way" of Queensland's major coal projects.

"If what the premier of Queensland wants is for me to give approvals without conducting checks, then I will stand in his way," a fired-up Mr Burke said in federal parliament's question time on Thursday.

"If he wants to trash the Great Barrier Reef ... we will stand in his way.

"If he wants to clear-fell every acre of koala habitat in southeast Queensland, we will stand in his way."

The two governments clashed in June when Mr Burke called the state's environmental assessment of the Alpha coal mine "shambolic".

The federal minister said it took his government an extra three months to approve the project because of the state's negligence.

He said Queensland had failed to include a plan to manage wetlands and the impact of runoff and coal dust on the Great Barrier Reef, among other conditions.

GVK said it was delighted with the federal decision to approve the Alpha project.

"Ultimately, we believe the overall assessment process has resulted in best-practice environmental protection outcomes," chairman GVK Reddy said.

The state government welcomed the approval but Deputy Premier Jeff Seeney said Mr Burke's attack was unfounded and politically motivated.

He said the federal government approval had just 19 conditions but the state government had set 128.

"Clearly there were no significant issues outstanding. Clearly there was a lot of politics involved," Mr Seeney said in a statement.

He called on the minister to move quickly now to approve the South of Embley bauxite mine on Cape York.

Meanwhile, conservationists said the Alpha mine was a huge threat to the environment and should never have been approved.

The Australian Greens said Australia's environmental laws were too weak.

"The environmental impacts of this mega-mine on threatened species, air quality, rare wetlands and the huge increase in shipping on the Great Barrier Reef will be devastating," the Greens' Queensland Senator Larissa Waters said in a statement.

Greenpeace said the decision was unfortunate and it was now up to the community to protect the Great Barrier Reef.

Senior climate and energy campaigner Georgina Woods said the Alpha coal mine involved an "enormous" new coal port in the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area.

"I don't think it's reasonable to assume that building a coal port inside a World Heritage Area is an impact that can be managed," she said.

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