Coastal Management and Adapting to Sea Level Rise

On 8 September 2012 the NSW Government announced significant changes to the way the NSW coast will be managed. The intention of these changes is to reduce red tape around landowners placing temporary coastal protection works and to no longer recommend state-wide sea level rise planning benchmarks.

The 2009 NSW Sea Level Rise Policy Statement is no longer NSW Government policy.

Any reference to the ‘NSW sea level rise planning benchmarks’ in other guidelines and documents should be taken as meaning ‘council's adopted sea level rise projections’ where available.

Councils are encouraged to give local sea level rise projections due and proper consideration. Information to assist councils is available on the Office of Environment and Heritage website

The new changes provide greater flexibility to consider local conditions when determining future hazards and preparing coastal zone management plans. The first stage of the NSW Government’s comprehensive coastal reforms will:

  • remove the recommendation of state-wide sea level rise planning benchmarks
  • support local councils in adopting sea level rise projections relevant to their local area
  • provide clarity to councils on the preparation of section 149 certificates where there is a need to notify current and future landowners about coastal hazards
  • make it easier for coastal landholders to install temporary works to reduce the impacts of erosion on their properties.
These changes are part of a broader review of how sea level rise and coastal erosion is managed across the State and is in response to concerns raised by communities and councils regarding previous coastal erosion reforms.

The NSW Government will no longer recommend state-wide sea level rise projections. The Government will provide information on available sea level rise projections to assist councils develop projections relevant to their local area. The Government is also investigating options to provide councils with access to expert advice.

The NSW Government is in the process of preparing advice to all councils to guide the preparation and use of section 149 certificates. This will provide much needed certainty for local communities on how these certificates refer to future coastal hazards.

NSW Coastal Planning Guideline: Adapting to Sea Level Rise

The NSW Coastal Planning Guideline: Adapting to Sea Level Rise applies to all coastal areas of NSW, including the NSW Coastal Zone, as well as Sydney Harbour and Botany Bay. The term ‘coastal areas’ is used broadly to include the coastline, beaches, coastal lakes, estuaries, as well as the tidal reaches of coastal rivers. It also includes other low-lying land surrounding these areas that may be subject to coastal processes in the future as a consequence of sea level rise.

The Guideline adopts the following six coastal planning principles for sea level rise adaptation:

  • Assess and evaluate coastal risks taking into account sea level rise.
  • Advise the public of coastal risks to ensure that informed land use planning and development decision-making can occur.
  • Avoid intensifying land use in coastal risk areas through appropriate strategic and land-use planning.
  • Consider options to reduce land use intensity in coastal risk areas where feasible.
  • Minimise the exposure to coastal risks from proposed development in coastal areas.
  • Implement appropriate management responses and adaptation strategies, with consideration for the environmental, social and economic impacts of each option.

Download a copy of the Guideline  and FAQs.

Last Updated 10-Oct-2012