Coastal erosion management in NSW

Erosion at Collaroy

Coastal communities and local councils are facing difficult issues associated with coastal erosion along the NSW coastline. This issue is not new: records show coastal properties being affected by coastal erosion dating back to the 1940s.

NSW has an established framework for managing coastal erosion risks through the NSW Coastal Policy, the Coastal Protection Act 1979 and the Coastal Protection Regulation 2011. This framework involves local councils, with financial and technical support from the state, undertaking coastal hazard studies and developing coastal zone management plans which then inform land-use planning, development controls and coastal activities. These plans should contain a range of suitable management strategies to inform the community about how coastal erosion will be dealt with in their communities.

Coastal erosion management by local councils

In addition to preparing coastal zone management plans, local councils can carry out activities to reduce the impacts of coastal erosion on property and infrastructure. These activities may include dune restoration, beach nourishment and constructing protection works such as seawalls and groynes (structures built across a beach).

Under State Environmental Planning Policy (Infrastructure) 2007 (Infrastructure SEPP), councils need to refer coastal protection works proposals to the NSW Coastal Panel.

Councils may also levy a coastal protection service charge on land where the current or past landowners have voluntarily constructed coastal protection works. This charge covers council costs for maintaining the works and restoring the beach if the works cause erosion and must be levied in accordance with adopted Coastal Protection Service Charge guidelines.

Coastal erosion management by private landowners

Landowners in coastal erosion-prone areas can place sand or sandbags on the beach under strict conditions as temporary coastal protection works to reduce the impact of coastal erosion on their property during small storm events. If the bags cause erosion they are to be removed. Coastal erosion-prone areas are defined through a Code of Practice (PDF 367KB).

Private landowners may also lodge a development application for other coastal protection works. Under the Infrastructure SEPP, the NSW Coastal Panel is the consent authority for long-term coastal protection works where the council does not have a coastal zone management plan in place – where a plan is in place, the council is the consent authority.

Coastal management reforms

The coastal management reforms seek to support the NSW Government's vision for thriving and resilient communities living and working on a healthy coast now and into the future. Coastal communities need a modern, integrated framework that is fit for purpose for our unique environmental, social and economic coastal values.

The coastal management reforms package is now open for public consultation. The public consultation period is an important opportunity for the community to have a say on the reforms.

Page last updated: 13 November 2015