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NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment
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The coastal management framework – better planning for our future on the coast

The NSW coast provides a multitude of values and uses for the community. This competition for use and enjoyment places our coast under increasing pressure. The environmental and lifestyle benefits of coastal living continue to attract new residents and tourists.


Planning for coastal communities must carefully balance the need to provide jobs, housing, community facilities and transport for a changing population while maintaining the unique qualities and managing risks associated with development along our coastlines.


The NSW Government is improving the way we plan for development, protect environmental assets and manage coastal hazards. An initiative of the Department, the coastal management framework consists of legislation and planning policy as well as a funding boost of $83.6 million.


Coastal management webinar

In July 2019, the Department held a webinar to talk through the coastal reforms and the new coastal management framework.


The webinar helps you to:

  • understand the NSW coastal reforms and the management framework
  • learn about how we are progressing with the implementation of the reforms.


Watch the webinar


Legislation – Coastal Management Act 2016

The Coastal Management Act 2016 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
  • maintains and enhances public access to scenic areas, beaches and foreshores
  • supports the objectives for our marine environments 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.


Coastal management areas

The Act defines the coastal zone as comprising four coastal management areas. Each area has different characteristics and may at times overlap.


The four coastal management 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 that are characterised by 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.


Management objectives specific to each of these management areas – and reflecting their different values to coastal communities and the priorities for those areas – are established by the Act. These objectives are given effect strategically through coastal management programs and local strategic planning, such as zoning and development assessment on a site-by-site basis that are informed by a planning policy.


Each coastal management area has differentiated objectives under the Act, which respond to their social and environmental values and key threats. The objectives for each management area are to be achieved using both strategic and site-specific approaches. Strategically, councils and other public authorities give effect to these objectives by developing and implementing detailed actions in coastal management programs, and by using complementary zoning and other strategic planning tools. When considering individual development proposals, councils and other consent authorities will give effect to the Act’s objectives by applying the development controls in the planning policy


The Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH) is responsible for the Act. OEH supports councils through grant funding and technical assistance to develop comprehensive Coastal Management Programs. For more information go to Coastal management at the Office of Environment and Heritage's website.


Planning policy

State Environmental Planning Policy (Coastal Management) 2018 updates and consolidates into one integrated policy SEPP 14 (Coastal Wetlands), SEPP 26 (Littoral Rainforests) and SEPP 71 (Coastal Protection), including clause 5.5. of the Standard Instrument – Principal Local Environmental Plan. These policies are now repealed.


The Coastal Management SEPP commenced on 3 April 2018 and gives effect to the objectives of the Coastal Management Act 2016 from a land use planning perspective, by specifying how development proposals are to be assessed if they fall within the coastal zone.


An integrated and coordinated approach to land use planning is promoted by the new SEPP. It defines the four coastal management areas in the Act through detailed mapping and specifies assessment criteria that are tailored for each coastal management area. Councils and other consent authorities must apply these criteria when assessing proposals for development that fall within one or more of the mapped areas.


Detailed interactive maps accompany the SEPP. Accessed via the ePlanning Spatial Viewer, the maps layers can be viewed down to the individual (administrative boundaries) lot scale and viewed alongside other relevant local and state-wide planning controls.


Local planning direction

A local planning Ministerial Direction (PDF, 386 KB) supports councils when developing strategic plans and planning proposals in their coastal suburbs.


It promotes local planning that is consistent with the aims of the Act and SEPP – such as zoning and other local planning measures – that is supported by evidence obtained through a Coastal Management Program or Coastal Zone Management Plan (if still valid), certified by the Minister for the Environment.


Planning circular

Planning system circular PS19-006 (PDF, 180 KB) provides councils and other consent authorities with guidance on the assessment of coastal hazards and coastal protection work under State Environmental Planning Policy (Coastal Management) 2018. It also provides advice the disclosure of coastal hazards on planning certificates issued under section 10.7 of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979.


PS 19-006 supersedes planning system circular PS14-003, which provided practice guidance on disclosure of coastal hazards on planning certificates only.



The Coastal and Estuary Grant Program is part of the NSW Government’s $83.6 million package announced for coastal management. Managed by the Office of Environment and Heritage, the program provides technical and financial support to local government to assist in managing the risks from coastal hazards, such as coastal erosion, restoring degraded coastal habitats, and improving the health of NSW estuaries, wetlands and littoral rainforests.


State Environmental Planning Policy (Coastal Management) 2018 – maps

Detailed interactive maps accompany the SEPP. These maps can be accessed via the ePlanning Spatial Viewer or the Coastal Viewer.


ePlanning Spatial Viewer

Maps layers can be viewed down to the individual property scale and viewed alongside other relevant planning controls.


Launch the ePlanning Spatial Viewer


Coastal Viewer

Maps layers can be viewed down to the individual property scale, customised and exported directly from the viewer.


Launch the Coastal Viewer


Coastal Viewer Instructional Video

Watch this instructional video on how to use the Coastal Viewer (formerly known as the SEPP’s mapping tool).



Mapping updates

Minor updates have been made to the SEPP’s mapping tool, in response to consultation with councils and public authorities, to improve accuracy.


Access the previous version (effective from 3 April – 16 December 2018) of the Coastal Management SEPP maps.


More information

These fact sheets provide detailed information on the Coastal Management SEPP and its accompanying maps.

Page last updated: 13/11/2020