Australia: NSW Government introduces further coastal management reforms

A new coastal management policy for NSW will balance social, economic and environmental interests and provide adaptable and consistent State-based development controls.

On Friday 11 November, the NSW Government released a draft State Environmental Planning Policy (Coastal Management) 2016 (Coastal Management SEPP) for public comment.

The new State environmental planning policy (SEPP) is part of the NSW Government's overhaul of managing its coastline and follows the introduction of the Coastal Management Act 2016. The Act received assent on 7 June 2016 and will commence at a date following public exhibition of the Coastal Management SEPP.

A range of development controls have been introduced as part of the draft Coastal Management SEPP that aim to protect and manage sensitive coastal environments, mitigate coastal hazard risk and guide appropriate development in coastal locations.

The draft Coastal Management SEPP also simplifies the regulatory framework for coastal management and consolidates provisions under the existing SEPP No 14 - Coastal Wetlands, SEPP No 26 - Littoral Rainforests and SEPP No 71 - Coastal Protection. Each of the existing SEPPs will be repealed on commencement of the Coastal Management SEPP.

The public consultation period for the Coastal Management SEPP and associated maps will close 5.00pm, 23 December 2016.

A new "coastal zone"

The Act redefines the NSW "coastal zone" from a single fixed area along the State coastline to four coastal management areas with separate development controls.

Land in NSW may be subject to multiple coastal management areas, requiring consideration of more than one set of development controls under the Coastal Management SEPP.

The new coastal management areas and an overview of the applicable development controls are outlined below.

Coastal wetlands and littoral rainforests areas

New mapping of the coastal wetlands and littoral rainforests areas (based on state-level mapping) includes:

  • areas of hydrological and floristic coastal wetland characteristics or littoral rainforests and adjoining land;
  • improved information from studies conducted by the Department of Planning and Environment, University of NSW, NSW Office of Environment and Heritage and NSW Department of Primary Industries (Fisheries); and
  • Sydney metropolitan region; and
  • a 100m proximity area for coastal wetlands and littoral rainforests.

Key development controls

Development which satisfies requirements in the Coastal Management SEPP is permitted in this area.

Development within this area is "designated development", requiring an environmental impact assessment to support a development application (DA).

Development identified in "exempt development" in planning instruments in this are unaffected.

Coastal vulnerability area

New mapping of the coastal vulnerability area includes local coastal hazard mapping undertaken by a number of local councils (as adopted in the relevant local environmental plans (LEPs) and development control plans).

Local councils that have not undertaken local coastal hazard mapping will do so over the next five years.

Key development controls

Development which satisfies requirements in the Coastal Management SEPP is permitted in this area.

Coastal environment area

New mapping of the coastal environment area (based on defined distances around bodies of water) includes:

  • State waters and estuaries and a 100m landward area (and upstream to 1km beyond the Highest Astronomical Tide of the estuary);
  • coastal lakes and coastal lagoons and a 500m landward area; and
  • sensitive coastal lakes and coastal lagoons and a 500m landward area, plus any additional catchment area.

Key development controls

Development which satisfies requirements in the Coastal Management SEPP is permitted in this area, including a consideration of environmental values of the area.

Consent authorities must consider a number of criteria in determining a DA, including:

  • protection of the environment, water quality, native vegetation, fauna and their habitats and Aboriginal cultural heritage and places;
  • incorporation of water sensitive design; and
  • protection of the surf zone.

Coastal use area

New mapping of the coastal use area (based on defined distances around bodies of water) includes 1km landward of coastal waters, estuaries and coastal lakes (except for particular areas, eg. Sydney metropolitan region)

Key development controls

Development which satisfies requirements in the Coastal Management SEPP is permitted in this area, including consideration of the specific public interest in coastal areas.

Proposals must consider and address public interest criteria, including:

  • maintaining or improving public access to beaches, foreshores and headlands;
  • minimising overshadowing, wind funnelling and loss of views;
  • ·no detraction from the coastal scenic nature; and
  • protecting Aboriginal cultural heritage and the surf zone.

Coastal protection works

Under the Act, coastal protection works includes "...activities or works to reduce the impact of coastal hazards on land adjacent to tidal waters and includes seawalls, revetments, groynes and beach nourishment".

These works may be carried out by public authorities and other persons (eg. land owners).

Public authority

Coastal protection works may be carried out without development consent if the works are:

  • identified in the relevant coastal management program (CMP) (or a coastal zone management plan (CZMP) under the Coastal Protection Act 1979 (CP Act) that continues to have effect under clause 4 of Schedule 3 to the Act), or
  • beach nourishment, or
  • the placing of sandbags for a period of not more than 90 days, or
  • routine maintenance works or repairs to any existing coastal protection works.

Coastal protection works may be carried out with development consent in any other case.

Other persons

Coastal protection works may be carried out with development consent.

The draft Coastal Management SEPP also permits emergency coastal protection works. Emergency works allow for "the placement of sand, or the placing of sandbags for a period of not more than 90 days, on a beach, or a sand dune adjacent to a beach, to mitigate the effects of wave erosion on land". These works are considered to be exempt development and may be carried out by or on behalf of a public authority. The emergency works must be carried out in accordance with a coastal zone emergency action sub-plan (or a CZMP under the CP Act containing an emergency action sub-plan that continues to have effect under clause 4 of Schedule 3 to the Act).

Impact on property rights

The NSW Government has highlighted that development is still permissible in all areas of the coastal zone and that the Coastal Management SEPP does not rezone land. Land that is wholly or partly in the coastal zone will be subject to the Coastal Management SEPP.

Any proposed zoning changes by local councils will now need to be consistent with the Act and other State-based policies. Proponents seeking rezoning of land use zones under a LEP will need to take extra steps when preparing planning proposals. Proponents must now ensure that a planning proposal gives effect to and is consistent with:

  • the objectives of the Act and relevant coastal management area/s;
  • the NSW Coastal Management Manual and toolkit;
  • the NSW Coastal Design Guidelines 2003; and
  • any relevant CMP that has been certified by the Minister that applies to the land (or any CZMP under the CP Act that continues to have effect).

Additional development restrictions may also apply to specific coastal management areas (eg. a planning proposal must not rezone land to enable increased development or more intensive land use within a coastal wetland and littoral rainforest area).

Next steps

The DPE will continue to consult with local councils and the public regarding identification of relevant coastal hazards for inclusion in the coastal vulnerability area.

Following the public consultation period, the DPE will consider all submissions and may make further amendments to the draft Coastal Management SEPP and accompanying maps. The Coastal Management SEPP will commence when published on the NSW legislation website.

The maps forming part of the Coastal Management SEPP will be refined over time and updated as more information becomes available. The Coastal Management SEPP will also be subject to review in the first year of commencement and at least every five years following commencement.

Supporting instruments, including a new Coastal Management Manual and toolkit, will assist councils to identify and manage coastal management issues.


Clayton Utz communications are intended to provide commentary and general information. They should not be relied upon as legal advice. Formal legal advice should be sought in particular transactions or on matters of interest arising from this bulletin. Persons listed may not be admitted in all states and territories.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
Some comments from our readers…
“The articles are extremely timely and highly applicable”
“I often find critical information not available elsewhere”
“As in-house counsel, Mondaq’s service is of great value”

Related Topics
Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
Related Articles
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Registration (you must scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of

To Use you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.


The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.


Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions