Australia: A Coastal Change - Draft Queensland Coastal Plan 2009 Released

Last Updated: 15 October 2009
Article by Karen Trainor

Following public consultation and review of the 2002 State Coastal Management Plan, the draft Queensland Coastal Plan was released for public comment on 28 August 2009.

2008 Review

The 2008 review of the 2002 State Coastal Management Plan indicated that there were several areas for improvements including aligning coastal management with the Integrated Planning Act 1997 (Qld) (IPA) framework and the need for proactive planning for the sustainable use of sensitive coastal land.

The draft Plan aims to assist the management and protection of Queensland's coastline against coastal hazards including erosion, storm-tide inundation and sea-level rise, as well as the increasing population and development of Queensland. A projected sea level rise figure of 30 centimetres in 2050 is projected for the State, increasing to 80 centimetres by 2100.

Key changes - New State Planning Policy

Significantly, the draft Plan introduces a new State Planning Policy on Coastal Protection (SPP Coastal Protection), imposing mandatory coastal protection considerations for certain planning and development in Queensland. This is a notable shift from the 2002 State Coastal Management Plan. The SPP Coastal Protection contains policy outcomes to be achieved when amending or making a planning instrument, assessing development applications or designating land for community infrastructure.

The SPP Coastal Protection aims to ensure compliance with the Coastal Protection and Management Act 1995 (Qld) with regard to development assessment and land-use planning within the coastal zone.

The SPP Coastal Protection proposes that new development minimises the need for intervention in physical coastal process to protect human life and/or property from coastal hazards. Generally, development located inside areas at risk of coastal hazards will be discouraged. However, certain exceptions will apply:

  • where development already exists or an area has been identified for development in areas of risk of coastal hazards, redevelopment or infill development is acceptable if it is located, designed and constructed in an approved form;
  • where an area has been committed to planned development, erosion-prone areas and high-hazard inundation areas are to be avoided;
  • in other coastal hazard areas the land at risk cannot be used for residential development and other development is required to be located, designed and constructed to withstand or avoid the impacts of coastal hazards;
  • exemptions for maritime development; and
  • exemptions where there is an overriding need for the development in the public interest.

Other provisions of the SPP include:

  • the "land surrender" provisions of the Coastal Protection and Management Act 1995 (Qld) may be enforced where it is proposed that land within an erosion-prone area be subdivided. This would require that land be surrendered to the State to create a development-free buffer for coastal protection purposes;
  • if development is proposed within the urban footprint or rural living area, developers must avoid adverse effects on areas of high ecological significance. In the event that adverse effects cannot be avoided, developers must minimise and offset residual impacts;
  • if development is proposed outside the urban footprint or rural living area, developers must demonstrate that they have avoided adverse effects on the values and functioning of an area where development is undertaken in an area of high ecological significance. In the event that adverse effects cannot be avoided, developers must minimise impacts; and
  • when planning instruments are being prepared or amended, linear expansion along the coast or "ribbon development" is to be avoided - consolidated and physically separated settlements are preferred.

Policies addressing heritage, water quality, mining and fishing (present in the 2002 State Coastal Management Plan) will be removed and are addressed in separate policy mechanisms.

Area of application

The Coastal Protection and Management Act 1995 (Qld) stipulates that the draft Plan is to apply to the management and conservation of coastal resources within the "coastal zone". This Act will be amended to reflect that zone comprises the State's coastal waters and islands, as well as the area landward to five kilometres from the coast or to where the land is below 10 metres Australian Height Datum (whichever is further from the coast). The coastal zone also extends to the coastal plains and hinterland where activities can have a potentially indirect effect on the coast. Draft maps have been prepared to assist in determining the area the draft Plan applies to.

Public submissions

Public submissions on the draft Coastal Plan are invited until 31 October 2009. Submissions can be made using the online submission form.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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