Department of the Environment

About us | Contact us | Publications

Header imagesHeader imagesHeader images



Key departmental publications, e.g. annual reports, budget papers and program guidelines are available in our online archive.

Much of the material listed on these archived web pages has been superseded, or served a particular purpose at a particular time. It may contain references to activities or policies that have no current application. Many archived documents may link to web pages that have moved or no longer exist, or may refer to other documents that are no longer available.

NSW Coastline Management Manual

New South Wales Government
September 1990

ISBN 0730575063

Apendix A: NSW Coastline Hazard Policy

In June 1988 Cabinet adopted a Coastline Hazard Policy involving:

a) provision, under the proposed Coastline Hazard program, of financial and technical assistance to local government on the basis of 1:1 subsidy, (1 State : 1 Council);

b) production of a Manual to assist local government in dealing with coastline hazards and with new coastline development proposals;

c) amendment of the appropriate Act to provide Councils and other public authorities and their staff with immunity from liability in respect of advice provided or acts done in good faith in respect of coastline hazard matters, provided they follow the principles set down in the Manual; and

d) amendment of appropriate Acts to allow Councils and other authorities to provide rate relief in respect of vacant land which cannot be developed because of planning decisions made in response to coastal hazards caused by oceanic processes.

In more detail, the Policy adopted is set out below.


The coastline of NSW is under constant attack from the natural forces of the wind and waves. Consequently, much development is under threat from the hazards of erosion and recession of the coastline, and from inundation by the ocean.

In many places, beaches are receding at a significant rate, with implications both for existing development and for the siting of future development. Recession of the coastline may also result in the loss, not only of beaches but of public reserves and facilities along with a uniquely Australian landscape.

The situation is being exacerbated by the "greenhouse" effect which, inter alia, involves an increase in average world temperature, a consequent expansion of water in the upper layers of the ocean and a world wide sea level rise which is already being recorded in Australia.

Construction of protective works is not necessarily the solution to coastal hazards, as in many cases these can cause loss of the beach amenity, and can have adverse impacts on other parts of the coastline. The answer, where existing development is at risk, lies in an understanding of the forces at work and the application of management measures appropriate to the situation. Elsewhere, pre-planning should aim at ensuring that any development will be compatible with the degree of hazard.

The Government is concerned that much coastline development has in the past occurred in ignorance of, or without regard to, its potential for damage or inundation by storm seas, or the less obvious, but inevitable effects of coastline recession. The Government therefore desires that the coastline be managed in an integrated fashion so that its natural and man-made values will be conserved for posterity, but with regard to the legitimate needs of society to enjoy, occupy and use coastal areas.

Policy Statement

The primary objective of the Coastline Hazard Policy is to reduce the impact of coastal hazards on individual owners and occupiers, and to reduce private and public losses resulting from natural coastal forces. Consequently, it is the policy of the NSW Government that:

Implementation Strategy

1. The Government intends to lead by example. It therefore requires all government departments, authorities and instrumentalities to comply with the Policy, its spirit and this implementation strategy.

2. Authorities must have regard to social, economic and ecological considerations, as well as the potential impact of oceanic process on proposals and the impact of proposals on oceanic processes.

3. Management of the coastal zone is, primarily, the responsibility of local government, in accordance with its normal responsibilities for local planning and development control. This responsibility is to be discharged through the preparation and implementation of plans of management in the manner depicted hereunder.

4. The State Government will provide, through the Coastline Hazard Program, financial assistance for: