A NSW Government website

Coastal Lands Protection Scheme

The Coastal Lands Protection Scheme, which began in 1973, brings significant coastal lands into public ownership. It supports the care and management of these lands, and improves public access to them. 

The scheme has an annual budget of $3 million. It covers the entire NSW coastal zone except for the Greater Sydney area between Broken Bay, on the Central Coast, and Minnamurra River, south of Shellharbour. 

Since 1973, the NSW Government has acquired more than 15,000 hectares of coastal land.

How the scheme operates

The NSW coast is one of the state’s greatest assets, and the Coastal Lands Protection Scheme was designed to protect it for present and future generations.

Land is acquired under the scheme to:

  • promote public access
  • preserve the scenic qualities of the NSW coast
  • protect significant ecological sites. 

How to nominate land for purchase

The scheme does not take back land. It buys it from willing landowners at market prices. The land acquired is managed by the local council or the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service.

You can nominate land for potential purchase.


We have developed guidelines to support your council’s efforts to protect our coastline. They are designed to increase collaboration across state and local governments in acquiring and managing coastal land.

Coastal Lands Protection Scheme timeline

In 1971, the NSW Government wanted to protect the NSW coast from undesirable development. The responsible minister suggested bringing the most important scenic areas into public ownership and allow the public to access the foreshore for recreation.

In 1973, the Coastal Lands Protection Scheme was introduced. Mapping identified coastal lands as ‘red land’ – where it was essential for government to buy the land, or ‘yellow land’ – where planning restrictions were necessary to protect the land, but purchasing it was not vital.

The scheme has since bought almost 90% of the original red lands, and protected other land through suitable zoning.

In 2005, the acquisition criteria were expanded to include ecological values, and some sites were added to local environmental plans, which are subject to ‘coastal acquisition’ clauses under the scheme.

The scheme was expanded in 2011 to allow nominations for potential acquisitions by councils and other stakeholders.

In 2020, the department worked with local councils and other state government agencies to develop new guidelines. These help anyone identify and assess suitable coastal land for potential public acquisition.