by Geoff Egan
CONSERVATIVE think tank, The Institute of Public Affairs, has claimed a rise in the number of species listed as "threatened" is holding back regional development.
But Queensland Conservation Council dubbed the statement an "ideological attack" and said environmental laws were "toothless tigers" that rarely stopped a development.
IPA research fellow Morgan Begg said since 1992 the number of threatened species had increase 63% and was stopping development and investment in regional areas.
"The current trajectory of threatened species listing is unsustainable, and places significant costs on development and growth," Mr Begg said.
"These costs are disproportionately paid by regional Australia, which hosts the bulk of Australia's native wildlife.
"Centralised environmental law, including the threatened species regime, facilitates 'green lawfare' - which has cost the Australian economy as much as $1.2 billion in delays since 2000."
But Queensland Conservation Council coordinator Tim Seelig said the IPA report was a "red herring".
"I think it's a quite extraordinary ideological attack on environmental laws," he said.
"Our environmental laws are far too weak, which is why we are seeing so many species added to the threatened list."
Dr Seelig said despite the IPA's claim environmental laws almost never stopped a development progressing.
"There is absolutely no evidence that environmental protection laws are hindering development. In fact, the exact opposite - the economy is winning all the time." - NewsRegional