Coastal Management Act 2016

The Coastal Management Act 2016 provides the architecture for strategic management of our coastal areas into the future.

When the Act commences, the new Act will replace the current Coastal Protection Act 1979.

You can access the Act and text of the parliamentary speeches from the Coastal Management Bill 2016 page on the NSW Parliament website.

Aim and purpose of the Act

The new Coastal Management Act communicates the NSW Government's vision for coastal management. The Act reflects the vital natural, social, cultural and economic values of our coastal areas and promotes the principles of ecologically sustainable development in managing these values.

The legislative and policy framework introduced by the coastal reforms recognises natural coastal processes and the local and regional dynamic character of the coast, and promotes land use planning decisions that accommodate them. The reforms ensure coordinated planning and management of the coast and support public participation in these activities.

The aims of the Coastal Management Act also support the aims of the Marine Estate Management Act 2014, as the coastal zone forms part of the marine estate.

New definition of the coastal zone

The new Coastal Management Act divides the coastal zone into four coastal management areas. These four areas are defined by the unique features of different local areas.

The four areas are the:

  • coastal wetlands and littoral rainforests area
  • coastal vulnerability area
  • coastal environment area
  • coastal use area.

The four areas are defined in the new Act as part of the new Coastal Management State Environmental Planning Policy (SEPP). This legislation will establish clear, outcome-orientated management objectives for each area to ensure councils apply appropriate management tools and development controls.

Further details on the Coastal Management SEPP are available on the Planning and Environment website.

Coastal management planning and the Integrated Planning and Reporting framework

The new Coastal Management Act establishes requirements for the preparation of coastal management programs (CMPs). Over time, coastal management programs will replace current coastal zone management plans.

Coastal management programs will give effect to the management objectives for the four coastal management areas.

Under the Coastal Management Act, programs will have a strong emphasis on implementation within the local government Integrated Planning and Reporting (IP&R) framework. This includes performance auditing powers to ensure that programs are appropriately implemented.

Appropriate consultation will be required to develop a coastal management program. Importantly, the Act recognises that offshore sand and other sediment moves on a scale larger than local government boundaries (within areas known as sediment compartments). Consultation at the scale of these sediment compartments ensures coastal management activities can incorporate strategic issues on a regional scale.

All public authorities are required to have regard to relevant coastal management programs when carrying out their functions such as coastal planning, management; and undertaking infrastructure and other works in coastal areas.

Independent NSW Coastal Council

A new independent NSW Coastal Council will replace the statutory NSW Coastal Panel, and the Coastal Expert Panel established to provide advice on the current reforms. The appointment process will be consistent with the Public Service Commission appointment standards and Department of Premier and Cabinet requirements. This includes advertisement of roles, consideration of diversity and appointment on merit.

The NSW Coastal Council's role will be to provide independent advice to the Minister administering the new Act on coastal planning and management issues.

The NSW Coastal Council may provide advice to the Minister when granting Ministerial certification of a coastal management program, and may commission technical advice on matters of strategic importance.

The NSW Coastal Council will also be able to conduct, at the Minister's direction, performance audits of a local council's implementation of its coastal management program. Performance audits will enable the NSW Government to determine whether coastal management programs are being effectively implemented, and to identify opportunities for local council capacity building.

Regulating coastal protection works

The new Coastal Management Act brings across existing provisions in the Coastal Protection Act 1979 designed to protect beaches and headlands from the impacts of inappropriate coastal protection works. The new Act will require councils and other consent authorities to be satisfied that proposed coastal protection works do not unreasonably limit public access to or use of beaches and headlands, or pose a threat to public safety.

Amendments to the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 will allow consent authorities to place conditions on approvals for coastal protection works. This will provide security for maintenance costs, or restoration if damage occurs due to the coastal protection works.

Additional planning and development controls will be applied through the proposed Coastal Management State Environmental Planning Policy.

Coastal zone emergency action sub-plans and emergency coastal works

Current requirements for emergency action sub-plans will be retained and will focus on the roles and responsibilities of public authorities.

Provisions for private landholders to erect temporary coastal protection works without consent will be repealed. Private landowners can continue to seek consent for coastal protection works, whether temporary or longer-term.

Integrated compliance and enforcement

To reduce regulatory overlap, enforcement of the new legislative arrangements will be delivered through the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979.

These new arrangements are essential to the success of the reforms and will, for example, ensure that unauthorised works do not create legacy issues for our beaches.

This is consistent with integrating coastal management into the legal framework for land-use planning.

Receive updates as new information becomes available

If you would like to receive updates as new information becomes available register your interest by emailing:

Page last updated: 24 May 2017