Coastal protection

Boomerang Beach


The NSW coastline has come under increasing pressure as it continues to attract many new residents and visitors seeking the lifestyle and environment of coastal living. Planning for coastal communities must balance the need to provide jobs, housing, facilities and transport for a growing population while maintaining the coast's unique qualities. 

Draft Planning Circular: Advice on coastal hazards

The Government has asked for feedback from councils and the community on a draft Planning Circular that proposes giving councils clear advice on how buyers of coastal properties should be informed about hazards such as erosion and flooding. Submissions have closed and the department is now reviewing the comments received. 

Coastal Protection Package

The NSW Government, in June 2001, announced its $11.7 million Coastal Protection Package to protect the State's beaches, headlands and other coastal features for generations to come. As a part of this package, planning and development within the NSW Coastal Zone (as declared under the Coastal Protection Act 1979) is now subject to:

NSW Coastal Zone

Copies of the statutory maps showing the area declared as the NSW Coastal Zone can be viewed at the Department of Planning & Environment's Head Office and relevant regional offices and local councils.

Extension of the NSW Coastal Zone

On 18 November 2005, the then Minister for Natural Resources gazetted a notice extending the NSW Coastal Zone to the greater metropolitan region. 

Coastal Zone maps for the greater metropolitan region
Planning Circular 05-012 PDF file - planning implications of the extension of the NSW Coast zone, reissued 22 November 2005
Fact sheet - Coastal Zone reforms PDF file RTF file

State Environmental Planning Policy No. 71 - Coastal Protection

State Environmental Planning Policy No. 71 - Coastal Protection commenced on 1 November 2002. The policy has been made under the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 to ensure:

  • development in the NSW coastal zone is appropriate and suitably located
  • there is a consistent and strategic approach to coastal planning and management
  • there is a clear development assessment framework for the Coastal Zone.

SEPP 71 Master Plans

The Tathra River Estate Master Plan establishes a subdivision layout and dwelling locations for the Tathra River Estate, near Bega on the state’s Far South Coast.

A master plan was prepared for the Tathra River Estate because it is within a sensitive coastal location that includes significant coastal wetlands along the Bega River estuary, including Black Ada Swamp.

A draft master plan was prepared by the proponent for the estate, Linkwood (Nowra) Pty Ltd. The draft master plan was publicly exhibited by the department in mid-2012.

Issues raised during the public exhibition period were considered in the assessment report. The master plan was approved in June 2013.

Application to waive draft master plan

The Policy identifies master plan requirements for certain development in the coastal zone. An application can be made to the Minister for Planning to waive the need to draft a master plan under clause 18 of SEPP 71. The application form below can be lodged at your local Department of Planning & Environment office.
Application form to waive draft master plan RTF filePDF file

Comprehensive Coastal Assessment (CCA)

Comprehensive Coastal Assessment is another key element of the NSW Government's Coastal Protection Package. A Comprehensive Coastal Assessment toolkit is now available to help local councils, government agencies and others undertake important strategic land use planning. The toolkit represents a whole-of-government three-year investment in identifying, analysing and assessing data and information on the physical, biological, social and economic values of the State's coastline.

Protecting our coast: the comprehensive coastal assessment toolkit PDF file
Read more about Comprehensive Coastal Assessment (CCA)

Coastal Lands Protection Scheme (CLPS)

The Coastal Lands Protection Scheme is used to bring significant coastal lands into public ownership and provides for their long term management and care. The department administers the Scheme which receives an annual budget allocation of $3 million for acquisitions.

The Scheme, which commenced in 1973, identified certain lands to be protected and acquired. These lands usually included features such as headlands, dunes, hinterland, coastal lagoons and lakes, particularly where the original vegetation was still dominant. More recently the Scheme has been used to acquire additional lands on an opportunistic basis, if they meet certain criteria.

The main criteria for acquisition under the Scheme are:

  • Public access: to promote public access to the coastal foreshore.
  • Scenic quality: to maintain the scenic quality of the NSW coast.
  • Ecological values: to protect ecological sites of regional, state and/or national significance.

Since the Scheme commenced approximately 15,427 hectares at a total cost of $70.8 million have been acquired (as at June 2009). By identifying, acquiring and reserving land we have been able to create new coastal national parks and reserves for public enjoyment.

The department's land managers and resource specialists work together to negotiate purchases under the Scheme, arranging the transfer of land to management agencies such as the Department of Environment, Climate Change and Water (for a national park), the Land and Property Management Authority (for a Crown reserve) or under some circumstances the local council (for a public reserve).

Strategic Planning - Coastal Protection - Legislative changes relating to coastal planning matters.

 The Coastal Protection and Other Legislation Amendment Act (2010) has introduced a number of changes to state and local planning laws related to coastal protection including:

  • changes to s79C of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979; and
  • changes to the Environmental Planning and Assessment Regulation 2000.

These changes are supported by changes to clause 129 of the State Environmental Planning Policy (Infrastructure) 2007. All the changes commence on 1 January 2011.

Details of the changes are set out at and are summarised in Planning Circular No. PS 10-032 Legislative changes to coastal planning matters.


Last Updated 13-May-2014