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Resource Assessment Commission Coastal Zone Inquiry - Final Report November 1993

Resource Assessment Commission, November 1993
ISBN 0 64429457

Chapter 4 Current Coastal Zone Management - continued

4.2 Regulatory Processes

4.2.1 Regulatory mechanisms, such as council by-laws or conditions on development approvals (in contrast with economic instruments such as user charges) are the principal means by which governments control activities and allocate resources among users and potential users of resources. Table 4.1 summarises the different management mechanisms used by government. Regulations are used to control a vast range of activities in the coastal zone, ranging from the use of beaches for recreation to major resource and tourism developments. Different approaches are used for the regulation of private and public land and for different aspects of land and building development, including building, subdivision, heritage, health, safety, environmental management and land use issues. As a consequence, there are now over 900 regulatory systems involving more than 1500 regulatory agents (more than 900 local authorities and 600 state and federal agencies) concerned in some way with the regulation of land and building development (TASQUE 1992).

Table 4.1 Types of Management Mechanisms: A Summary
    Crown Land
Mechanisms Marine Leasehold Gazettal of reserves Vacant Freehold
Legislative and regulatory systems Gazettal of reserves Pollution control Resource access permits (e.g. petroleum)   Gazettal of reserves   Approvals processes
EIA procedures
Economic instruments Licence fees
Pollution charges
Lease charges Entrance and use fees Use fees Headworks charges
Performance bonds
Works programs Dredging, filling, port works, jetties   Construction and maintenance, coastal protection Coastal protection
Use facilities
Public land and marine management Management plans Management plans Management plans Management plans Management plans
Enforcement and surveillance Surveillance Rangers Monitoring and enforcement of lease conditions Rangers Rangers  

Note: Native title is now recognised as a form of tenure but is not included in this table.

4.2.2 Regulatory mechanisms used to control the use and development of coastal zone resources can be classified into three broad groups. The first comprises mechanisms used to regulate access to and use of public resources such as fisheries, mineral deposits, native flora and fauna, and Crown land. The second group comprises mechanisms used to control the development of privately owned land and other resources. Overlying both of these groups is the third group: mechanisms used for environmental protection.

Regulation of public resource use

4.2.3 Approval systems governing access to and use of public resources vary according to the type of resource. In the case of public land, every state has legislation, usually a Lands Act, that establishes a regime for the management of Crown land and the seabed within state territorial limits. This legislation determines how Crown land may be alienated, developed and managed. In respect of specific sectors of economic activity, the tradition among state governments has been to also create independent systems of regulation for freshwater and rivers, minerals and fish resources. These systems are usually based on separate pieces of legislation and administered by different Ministers ( See Table 4.2). Although this sectoral division facilitates regulation within each sector, it hinders decision making that integrates the interests of different sectors. The result is that systems are disposed to function without reference to other agencies or to broader government policy frameworks.

Regulation of privately owned resources

4.2.4 Land use planning and development control legislation is used to guide, control and regulate many development activities. Although there are differences between the states, all state systems have four elements in common:

Table 4.2 Distribution of State Government Resource Management Responsibilities
Responsibility Victoria New South Wales Queensland Tasmania South Australia Western Australia Northern Territory
Planning Department of Planning and Development Department of Planning Department of Housing, Local Government and Planning; Department of Lands Department of Environment and Land Management-Planning Division Department of Housing and Urban Development-South Australian Planning Commission Department of Planning and Urban Development Department of Land Administration
Department of Conservation and Land Management
Department of Lands, Housing and Local Government
Public land management: Crown land Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Department of Conservation and Land Management Department of Lands Department of Environment and Land Management - Tasmanian Property Services Group Department of Environment and Natural Resources Department of Conservation and Land Management
Department of Land and Administration
Department of Lands, Housing and Local Government
Environment Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Environment Protection Authority Department of the Environment and Heritage - Environment Division Department of Environment and Land Management - Environmental Management System Department of Environment and Natural Resources Department of Conservation and Land Management - Environment Protection Authority Department of Lands, Housing and Local Government
National parks and reserves Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Department of Conservation and Land Management - National Parks Wildlife Service Department of the Environment and Heritage - Queensland National Parks and Wildlife Service Department of Environment and Land Management - Parks and Wildlife Service Department of Environment and Natural Resources Department of Conservation and Land Management Conservation Commission of the Northern Territory
Soil conservation Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Department of Conservation and Land Management Department of the Environment and Heritage Department of Primary Industry and Fisheries Department of Primary Industries Department of Conservation and Land Management
Department of Agriculture
Conservation Commission of the Northern Territory
Water management Melbourne Water;
Rural Water Corporation;
Department of Conservation and Natural Resources;
Department of Water Resources (non-metropolitan) - Public Works Department Department of Primary Industries - Commissioner of Water Resources Department of Primary Industry and Fisheries - Rivers and Water Supply Commission Engineering and Water Supply Department Western Australian Waterways Commission - Water Authority of Western Australia Power and Water Authority
Forest management Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Department of Conservation and Land Management - Forestry Commission of NSW Department of Primary Industries - Commissioner of Forests Department of State Development and Resources Department of Primary Industries Department of Conservation and Land Management Conservation Commission of the Northern Territory
Ports Ministry of Transport;
statutory Port Authorities
Maritime Services Board of NSW Department of Transport Department of Transport Marine Boards and Port Authorities Department of Marine and Harbours Department of Transport and Statutory Port Authorities Darwin Port Authority
Fisheries Department of Conservation and Natural Resources - Fisheries Branch NSW Fisheries Department of Primary Industries Department of Primary Industry and Fisheries Department of Primary Industries: Fisheries Division Fisheries Department of Western Australia Department of Primary Industry and Fisheries
Mining Department of Energy and Minerals Department of Mineral Resources Department of Minerals and Energy Department of State Development and Resources Department of Mines and Energy Department of Minerals and Energy Department of Mines and Energy

4.2.5 State planning legislation generally provides governments with power to prepare and alter state, regional and local land use plans and to regulate the use, development and protection of private land. It also delegates substantial powers to local government. Where local government has principal responsibility for rezoning and subdivision there are often mechanisms to ensure that decisions are given final approval by the relevant state government or are audited to ensure compliance with state guidelines. Planning and building approvals are managed by local governments in accordance with the requirements of statutory planning instruments. State legislation provides for appeals against decisions made under the legislation regulating planning proposals or the conditions attached to development approvals.

4.2.6 As a consequence of use over many years, regulatory systems have developed into a complicated set of arrangements that permit consideration of a wide range of issues from the broad strategic level (for example, strategic land use plans in Queensland) to the very detailed (for example, building design and layout under development control plans in New South Wales), and including aesthetic issues (for example, heritage and urban design controls in South Australia) and economic issues (the need for economic impact assessment for some developments in Queensland). These separate matters are usually dealt with under several systems and most coastal zone developments require several approvals; for example, canal estates in Queensland can require up to 20 different approvals (Queensland Premiers Department 1989).

4.2.7 Conflict between developers and government planners is common. The Commonwealth Government's Indicative Planning Council outlined the key areas of conflict over local government processes for approvals, as identified by developers and by local government planners (Indicative Planning Council 1992, p. 12). For developers the areas were council procedures, processing difficulties within planning departments, opposition by residents to development proposals, insufficient delegation of decision-making responsibility to council staff, and lack of clear guidance from council planners. Planners identified a different set of problems: inadequate information supplied by developers when lodging applications, lack of knowledge of planning controls by applicants, failure of applications to comply with council policy, insufficient pre-lodgement consultation, and failure of applicants to respond to requests for additional information.

Box 4.2 The problems of management: example 2-tourism

Management of Green Island and Reef, Queensland

Green Island is a small sand cay located on a coral reef approximately 27 kilometres offshore from Cairns. It has been used by tourists since the 1920s. In the 1970s various problems with the management of Green Island were evident. These were associated with building on a dynamic and relatively unstable sand cay, increasing tourist pressures endangering the natural resources of the Island and Reef, and inadequate provision of services.

The need for an overall plan of development for the Island and a more effective management approach led the Queensland Government to establish the Green Island Management Committee to prepare a management plan for the area, completed in 1980. The Plan, though a useful document, was not successfully implemented. The main reason for this was the absence of a single responsible management agency.

By the latter half of the 1980s, Green Island's popularity as a day-trip and overnight tourist destination had grown significantly, resulting in adverse impacts. These included environmental impacts, a decline in the quality of infrastructure on the Island, and increased erosion, to the point of threatening the physical stability f built structures such as the jetty. Faced with this increasing tourist pressure and the need for a more coordinated approach to management, the Government initiated work on the current management plan for the Island-the Green Island and Reef Management Plan, which was approved in 1993.

The Phillip Island penguin parade, Victoria

Since the 1920s tourist interest in the fairy penguins that inhabit Phillip Island has increased substantially, from a few interested locals to up to 5000 people per night. Although the penguins are not endangered their numbers have been significantly affected. Breeding areas have been reduced in size by 80 per cent since the early 1900s as a result of a range of tourism impacts, including uncontrolled vehicular and pedestrian access and habitat loss due to tourism development. During the 1980s penguin numbers declined by approximately 45 per cent.

In response to these impacts and the inability of previous management arrangements to deal with the situation, in 1985 the Victorian Government announced the Penguin Protection Plan , which outlined a program of scientific research, a land purchase program to increase the size of the reserve, and the preparation of a management plan in an effort to halt the decline of the penguin colony. Successful implementation of the Plan has resulted in significant improvements in wildlife protection and tourism and the numbers of fairy penguins are beginning to increase again.

Management of Sydney's northern beaches

The northern beaches of Sydney are among the most popular beaches in Australia, for both domestic and international visitors. A major issue relating to their management centres around a lack of funding for local government.

Local councils bear many of the costs of beach management. They carry out dune stabilisation works, protect beach amenity and provide and maintain public beach facilities. But, while the tourist use of the beaches has increased, the financial assistance the councils receive for coastal management has not. For example, Manly Municipal Council's grant funding (Financial Assistance Grants-relating to councils' coastal responsibilities) has diminished each year since 1988.

Local councils such as those on Sydney's northern beaches are experiencing difficulty managing the impacts of tourism in the face of strong promotion, by state and Commonwealth governments, of tourism growth.

Sources: RAC (1993j), RAC (1993r), Manly Municipal Council (Submission 476), Pittwater
Municipal Council (Submission 510).

4.2.8 Other areas of contention are the time taken to grant approvals and lack of predictability in processes. Major projects that require multiple approvals and new developments such as marine farms are more likely to suffer from delays. Australian Paper Manufacturers submitted that 'industry seeks a clear and transparent process for the assessment of development opportunities within the coastal zone and for the resolution of conflicts. There must be certainty in the process which provides security of decisions once they are made' (Submission 213, p. 6).

4.2.9 In response to previous studies identifying delays as a major feature of approvals systems, a number of reforms are currently in progress to streamline these procedures and improve efficiency. These include the Local Approvals Review Program, the Integrated Development Approvals System in Queensland, and the Land Use Planning and Approvals Package in Tasmania.

4.2.10 One mechanism now in use is the 'fast tracking' of approvals for large and complex development projects considered to be of national or state significance. Although this approach offers obvious advantages, a number of Inquiry participants expressed concern about it, particularly in relation to the substantial amount of ministerial discretion it allows, the lack of community consultation, and a perceived failure to have regard to appropriate approval and environment protection legislation, including adequate environmental impact assessment. The Australian Conservation Foundation suggested that the 'fast track' approach is in direct contravention of Schedule 3 of the Intergovernmental Agreement on the Environment, which, among other things, states that the level of assessment of projects should reflect the environmental significance of the project and the degree of public interest (Submission 589, p.6).

4.2.11 Another concern is lack of regard for the total effect of successive approvals. Local government administration usually relates only to matters within each authority's jurisdiction and pays limited attention to matters affecting other areas. This has contributed to the 'tyranny of small decisions', whereby the cumulative impact of a number of small developments, which may individually cause minimal environmental effects, generates significant and sometimes detrimental effects on the resources of the coastal zone (HORSCERA 1991). According to the Australian Heritage Commission:

One of the major deficiencies of the current process for approval of coastal development is that it is frequently focused on assessment of individual projects, with little consideration of cumulative effects of a number of developments within the same region. (Submission 340, p. 17)

4.2.12 The processes for obtaining development approvals are particularly complicated when different tenures are involved. State and local governments, and in certain circumstances the Commonwealth, may be involved, with a diverse range of agencies having different requirements and operating different approval systems. Figure 4.1 shows the way in which mariculture developments may be subject to this multiple approvals process.

Environmental protection and regulation

4.2.13 The third group of regulatory mechanisms-those designed to safeguard environmental quality and values-consists of three sub-groups: environment protection legislation; pollution control mechanisms; and environmental impact assessment procedures.

4.2.14 Legislation is used to protect the environment through protective land tenure and regulations dealing with land use. Most states have also introduced mechanisms to provide some form of environment protection on privately owned land; for example, soil conservation legislation, native vegetation clearance legislation, native flora and fauna protection legislation, and land management agreements.

4.2.15 Pollution control mechanisms, including permits and licences, are used to regulate air, water and noise pollution. Environment protection agencies are increasingly being used to replace fragmented administrative arrangements and to administer relevant environmental protection legislation.

4.2.16 In all states legislation requiring identification and assessment of the environmental impacts of proposed developments is the principal means by which environmental considerations are explicitly taken into account in the process of approving development applications.

4.2.17 Environmental impact assessment procedures vary considerably between the states. In New South Wales and South Australia environmental impact assessment is part of the broader development approval process. In Western Australia and Victoria environmental impact assessments formally operate as independent processes, although in Victoria they are administratively coordinated with planning processes; in Tasmania assessment is linked to pollution control mechanisms; and in Queensland the requirement to consider environmental effects of coastal development is contained in five Acts, with administrative responsibilities divided between state and local governments. The Australian and New Zealand Environment and Conservation Council is developing a national approach to environmental impact assessment procedures. The Inquiry's views on environmental impact assessment are provided in Chapter 12.

Figure 4.1

Figure 4.1 Approvals Required for Mariculture Development

Decision-making criteria

4.2.18 Both land use and environmental control systems rely on sets of criteria that enable assessment of the development or use of the resources concerned. These criteria take a variety of forms; many are broadly based and set out only general parameters for development. They include the following:

4.2.19 These criteria generally lack statutory force, either because they are advisory (for example, the Australian Model Code for Residential Development) and are not contained within statutory instruments or because they are broadly stated, open to interpretation, and intended to be 'taken into account' in decision making rather than applied rigorously (for example, state planning policies in Victoria). Other criteria are more specific and are applied within statutory frameworks that allow limited discretion and interpretation; examples are the water and air quality standards and development standards contained in state and local planning instruments.

4.2.20 Assessment criteria in most states are usually part of separate regulatory systems and are contained in a wide variety of documents; state legislation, regulations, policy statements, management guidelines, planning schemes, codes, bylaws, environmental performance standards, licence conditions, and so on.

Coordination of coastal policies and objectives

4.2.21 Although responsibilities for coastal zone management are typically spread across several state agencies, a number of state governments have defined general objectives for the management of coastal zone resources and established coordination mechanisms. They are an important part of the management framework: they reflect the broad intent of governments. Government objectives are expressed in legislation, government policy statements and other documents prepared by government agencies.

Box 4.3 The problems of management: example 3-mariculture

Norfolk Bay Aquaculture Management Plan
The Tasmanian Department of Primary Industry and Fisheries developed a management plan for aquaculture in the Norfolk Bay region to provide a basis for the sustainable management of the industry. The Plan aimed to redress concerns about the timeliness of the approvals process, lack of information for decision making, resource use conflicts and objections to mariculture development applications, future development of aquaculture in the region, and the management and control of existing farms. The Plan was intended as a management tool for the Department, particularly for new marine farm developments. It attempted to integrate mariculture with other resource uses and thus reduce conflict over the allocation of new marine farm leases. Guidelines were provided for development control consistent with other resource uses, maximising the benefit of aquaculture to the community, to provide economic efficiency for marine farmers, and to improve the environmental monitoring of marine farms.

The Plan was an administrative plan, with no statutory basis. A decision on the allocation of a marine farm lease was made soon after the Plan's release. The application was the subject of a number of objections, which ultimately resulted in an appeal through the court system. The appeal became the longest ever over a marine farm lease application, concluding in refusal to approve the plan. During proceedings the Magistrate considered the Plan inadmissible (since it was not a legal document) and would permit only the application and original objections to be presented. This resulted in the Plan being confined to the status of a guide for prospective applicants for a marine farm licence, thus limiting its potential in preventing conflict between marine farms and other uses.

Municipality of Circular Head-Dairy Effluent Program
Oyster growers at Circular Head in Tasmania's north-west were adversely affected by poor water quality caused in part by dairy farming effluent discharges. This resulted in the allocation of a 'restricted' classification to Duck Bay oysters. This classification is allocated as part of the Tasmanian Shellfish Quality Assurance Program to oysters in areas with chronic low levels of pollution (typically animal faecal pollution) that may fluctuate unpredictably. Areas with a restricted classification may be used only as nursery areas. Microbial contamination occurring after heavy rainfall often results in temporary closures of oyster farms. In 1981 several oyster farms in the Duck River estuary were permanently closed as a result of such contamination.

With the assistance of several state government departments, the Municipality of Circular Head established a working group including representatives from the dairy farming industry to investigate solutions to the problem. A technical committee was established and inspected each dairy farm and allocated a priority for action to each adjacent stream. Depending on the rating, farms were given a time within which they were required to install equipment to use the dairy effluent to spray onto farm pastures. The committee provided all farmers with substantial information and advice to assist them in meeting their obligations. It is expected that by 1996 all effluent will be contained within each dairy farm. Licences issued under the Tasmanian Quality Assurance Program have now been upgraded from 'restricted' to 'approved conditional' and it is hoped that by 1996 they will be upgraded to 'approved', the highest category.

The Dairy Effluent Program represents a successful community-based, non-regulatory and nonstatutory approach to the resolution of a natural resource management problem. The Program has now been extended throughout Tasmania. The Tasmanian Department of Environment and Land Management, in conjunction with the Department of Primary Industry and Fisheries, has prepared guidelines for the Program.

Source: RAC (1993p), Municipality of Circular Head (Submission 310)

4.2.22 Some state governments, and the Commonwealth, have made or are preparing policy statements containing broad objectives for coastal zone management at all levels. These include, for example, A Coastal Policy for Victoria (1991) and A Draft Policy for Commonwealth Responsibilities in the Coastal Zone (1992).

4.2.23 Although there are some differences in state coastal policy statements, the broad objectives, whether explicit or implicit, draw heavily on the concepts of ecologically sustainable development, and reflect the following:

4.2.24 Rarely, however, do these policy approaches rarely seek to integrate social, economic and environmental goals in a single framework. Most of the stated objectives are sectorally based, concerned with either particular resources or particular areas; for example, the management of fish resources or coastal reserves. In the absence of a holistic approach and an integrating mechanism, these objectives sometimes conflict, both within and between spheres of government (see RAC 1993e).

4.2.25 Despite the fact that local governments have greatest responsibility for the management of coastal zone resources, many local governments have no specific coastal policies or objectives relating to their areas of jurisdiction. Many local authorities do, however, have sectoral objectives that indirectly affect coastal zone management, including those relating to programs for the management of open spaces, roads and infrastructure.

4.2.26 The case studies conducted by the Inquiry in collaboration with the states showed that implementation programs have not been devised to achieve many of the stated objectives of the policies, nor have associated programs been translated into explicit objectives for state agencies or local government. Where programs have been established, arrangements to monitor progress in achieving objectives are limited. As a consequence, the degree to which coastal zone management policies are being supported by management practices appears to be limited.

4.2.27 Most states have established coastal committees (comprising mainly representatives of government agencies) to assist in the coordination of coastal resource management and the implementation of coastal policy and to provide advice to government on coastal resource use and protection. These arrangements include the Coastal Management Committee in the Northern Territory, the Coastal Management Coordinating Committee in Western Australia, the Coastal Committee of New South Wales, and the Victorian Coastal Management and Coordination Committee.

4.2.28 In spite of the existence of these mechanisms, there is among government, industry and community representatives who participated in the Inquiry a perception that unnecessary functional duplication and overlap between agencies responsible for coastal zone management are characteristic of existing coastal management. For example, the Council of the Shire of Flinders in Victoria submitted that approval for the use of Crown foreshore land is required by both local government and the Victorian Department of Conservation and Environment and that this frustrates many worthwhile projects (Submission 294). The fragmentation of agency responsibility causes confusion about where responsibility resides and suggests inadequate coordination between and within governments.

Processes of reform

4.2.29 The case studies of coastal management in selected areas around Australia that the Commission conducted jointly with the states demonstrated the management difficulties caused by of lack of coordination. This problem is particularly acute when resources straddle both terrestrial and marine areas (Australian Conservation Foundation, Submission 589, p. 23; Australian Petroleum Exploration Association, Submission 553, p. 3) and is a hindrance to efficient management of mariculture and offshore petroleum exploration. Other areas where lack of coordination causes particular problems are when developments affect both public and private land tenures (Wescott, Submission 530, pp. 12-14) and when components of proposals are subject to different approvals processes.

Box 4.4 The problems of management: example 4-coastal processes

From the mid-1960s sand on beaches at the southern end of the Gold Coast was not being naturally replenished after storms. The source of the problem was traced to the training walls built at the mouth of the Tweed River, just south of the Queensland-New South Wales border.

The natural situation
Beach erosion often occurs on the Gold Coast during heavy seas. Under normal circumstances the sand from the immediate beach and dunes is carried out to sea by large waves, to form a sand bar just offshore. When wave conditions return to normal the sand is pushed back up onto the beach and onshore winds carry dry sand into dunes, where it is trapped by vegetation, thus rebuilding the dune. This natural movement of sand to and from the beach does not affect the long-term character and use of the beach. On the Gold Coast and the north coast of New South Wales there is a natural drift of sand up the coast caused by the along-shore current. Thus beaches in the Gold Coast have their sand stock further replenished by this progressive sand movement.

Development effects
When development changes the dynamic nature of the processes associated with sand movement it can create serious problems. Construction of training walls to prevent sand filling the Tweed River shipping channel, thus interrupting the natural processes, has had long-term adverse effects; for example, the permanent loss of sand from southern Gold Coast beaches, extensive erosion and beach loss, and a large build-up of sand on the southern side of the walls. Loss of beaches on the Gold Coast has the potential to seriously reduce the attractiveness of the area for tourists, which would create a corresponding reduction in the economic input of tourism to the local economy.

Measures to overcome the problems
Since 1970, $40 million has been spent on beach replenishment by Gold Coast City Council and the Queensland Government. With an increasing amount of work still to be carried out, the Council believes it is unlikely that it will be able to support the financial burden of continued replenishment. Several solutions to the erosion problem have been canvassed. First, Gold Coast City Council has investigated the viability of pumping sand from large offshore deposits to restore and stabilise beaches. Estimates suggest that between 10 and 15 million cubic metres of sand would be required to provide an adequate storm buffer for the beaches. The Council has anticipated that this type of initiative would be expensive, although experience has shown it to be a very effective method of sand replenishment. Second, the Council requires that all excess clean sand from building excavations within 500 metres of the shore be deposited, profiled and stabilised on that beach. This method has provided approximately 750 000 cubic metres of sand for beach replenishment in the past five years. Third, any sand replenishment scheme requires vegetation to be planted and beach access to be controlled (through fences and access paths) to enable dunes to be stabilised and protected from wind and water erosion. Finally, a sand bypass system has been proposed at the mouth of the Tweed River. This system would pump sand (approximately 500 000 cubic metres annually) trapped on the southern side of the training walls to beaches on the northern side. Thus the sand drift to Gold Coast beaches would be restored and the sand levels maintained, and siltation problems in the shipping channel would be obviated. A bypass system would be expensive, the initial cost being in the order of $8 million and annual operating expenses approximately $750 000. Such a system operates effectively at the mouth of the Gold Coast Seaway, just north of the affected area.

Source: Gold Coast City Council (Submission 165, att.).

4.2.30 A number of policy and legislative reforms have been made at Commonwealth and state levels to try to improve coordination among responsible agencies and across the three spheres of government. In state governments there is growing recognition of the problems caused by the dispersal among a number of agencies of responsibilities for management of coastal zone resources. This has resulted in revision of some procedures to take account of a wider range of policy considerations, often by using coordinating mechanisms between government agencies. 'Whole of government' approaches to legislation and policy formulation, such as those being followed by the Queensland Government, may also lead to substantial improvements in fragmented approaches to coastal management.

4.2.31 Attempts are being made by state and local governments to improve the regulatory framework. For example, the Tasmanian Government is considering developing marine planning schemes to operate in conjunction with local government planning schemes to better integrate marine and terrestrial management systems. A number of states now require government agencies to conform with planning legislation to provide more consistency in the development of private and public land, and some state governments are broadening their approach to include multisectoral and wider environmental considerations.

4.2.32 Despite recent changes to management systems, major weaknesses remain in current regulatory and approvals mechanisms. The most important is that generally decisions such as zonings, road construction, developments or subdivisions do not pay sufficient regard to the wider impact of the change. Often this is the result of dispersal of responsibility for different functions among several agencies. Existing arrangements are also ineffective and inefficient in resolving conflicts among users of coastal zone resources. As the South Australian Department of Premier and Cabinet stated, 'There are major problems, still, in resolving conflict in allocating resources' (Submission 121, p. 2). Conflicts between developers and communities about development proposals often are eventually resolved through costly and time-consuming litigation or formal arbitration.

4.2.33 The most serious overall shortcoming is that, despite frequent preparation of policies to manage the coastal zone, promulgation of sets of objectives, creation of coordination mechanisms and frequent overhauls of administrative machinery, the collective process of land and resource management in Australia is producing unanticipated consequences, in particular degradation of the coastal environment. One notable result is that Australia is experiencing an urban sprawl into the coastal zone, with effects that were never intended.