NSW Department of Planning and Environment

Coastal Management Act 2016

The Coastal Management Act 2016 (the Act) replaces the Coastal Protection Act 1979 and establishes a strategic framework and objectives for managing coastal issues in NSW.

The Act promotes strategic and integrated management, use and development of the coast for the social, cultural and economic wellbeing of the people of NSW.

Its focus is on ecologically sustainable development that:

  • protects and enhances sensitive coastal environments, habitats and natural processes;
  • strategically manages risks from coastal hazards and responds to climate change;
  • maintains and enhances public access to scenic areas, beaches and foreshores;
  • supports the objectives for our marine environment under the Marine Estate Management Act 2014;
  • protects and enhances the unique character, cultural and built heritage of our coastal areas, including Aboriginal cultural heritage.

The Act also establishes the framework for developing strategic Coastal Management Programs.

Coastal management areas

The Act defines the coastal zone as four (sometimes overlapping) coastal management areas. The Act establishes management objectives specific to each of these management areas, reflecting their different values and threats. The four areas are:

  1. Coastal wetlands and littoral rainforests area – areas which display the characteristics of coastal wetlands or littoral rainforests that were previously protected by SEPP 14 and SEPP 26.
  2. Coastal vulnerability area – areas subject to coastal hazards such as coastal erosion and tidal inundation.
  3. Coastal environment area – areas with natural coastal features such as beaches, rock platforms, coastal lakes and lagoons and undeveloped headlands. Marine and estuarine waters are also included.
  4. Coastal use area – land adjacent to coastal waters, estuaries and coastal lakes and lagoons, and where urban coastal development may be found.

The department’s Environment and Heritage group is responsible for the Act. The group supports councils through grant funding and technical assistance and coordination to develop comprehensive Coastal Management Programs.

For more information you can visit Coastal management at the EES's website.

Page last updated: 02/11/2022