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 new legislation and planning policy as well as a funding boost of $83.6 million.
The Coastal Management Act 2016 replaces the Coastal Protection Act 1979 and establishes a new strategic framework and objectives for managing coastal issues in NSW.
The new 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:
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:
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 new 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 new 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.
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 webmap viewer, the maps layers can be viewed down to the individual (administrative boundaries) lot scale and printed directly from the viewer. Watch the instructional video below.
A new 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.
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.
Watch this instructional video on how to use the Coastal SEPP Mapping Tool.
Minor updates have been made to the SEPP’s mapping tool, in response to consultation with councils and public authorities, to improve accuracy.
These fact sheets provide detailed information on the Coastal Management SEPP and its accompanying maps.
Page last updated: 05/07/2019