Last Friday, 23 March 2018, the NSW Government released the State Environmental Planning Policy (Coastal Management) 2018 (NSW) (the “Policy”), which is scheduled to commence on 3 April 2018. Public consultation on the draft for this Policy took place from 11 November 2016 to 20 January 2017. The aim of the Policy is outlined in regulation 3:
The aim of this Policy is to promote an integrated and co-ordinated approach to land use planning in the coastal zone in a manner consistent with the objects of the Coastal Management Act 2016, including the management objectives for each coastal management area, by:
The first stage in the NSW Government’s coastal reform scheme occurred with the introduction of the Coastal Management Act 2016 (NSW) (the “Act”). The NSW Government’s Office of Environment & Heritage outlined the purpose of this Act on their website:
“The new Coastal Management Act communicates the NSW Government's vision for coastal management. The Act reflects the vital natural, social, cultural and economic values of our coastal areas and promotes the principles of ecologically sustainable development in managing these values.
The legislative and policy framework introduced by the coastal reforms recognises natural coastal processes and the local and regional dynamic character of the coast, and promotes land use planning decisions that accommodate them. The reforms ensure coordinated planning and management of the coast and support public participation in these activities.”
Following the creation of this Act, the Department of Planning and Environment, along with the Office of Environment and Heritage, developed a new coastal management framework and released it for consultation. This framework, referred to as the Coastal Management State Environmental Planning Policy (“SEPP”), was designed to support the implementation and regulation of the management objectives as set out in the Act. The goals for the development of the SEPP were outlined on the NSW Government’s Planning & Environment website:
“The Coastal Management SEPP will consolidate and improve current coastal-related SEPPs. It will replace SEPP 14 (Coastal Wetlands), SEPP 26 (Littoral Rainforests) and SEPP 71 (Coastal Protection) and ensure that future coastal development is appropriate and sensitive to our coastal environment, and that we maintain public access to beaches and foreshore areas. The Coastal Management SEPP will also better equip councils and coastal communities to plan for and effectively respond to coastal challenges such as major storms, coastal erosion and climate change impacts, through more strategic planning around coastal development and emergency management.
The Coastal Management SEPP will also better equip councils and coastal communities to plan for and effectively respond to coastal challenges such as major storms, coastal erosion and climate change impacts, through more strategic planning around coastal development and emergency management.”
The land to which the Policy applies is defined in regulation 5 as “land within the coastal zone”. As such, the Act separates the coastal zone into the following coastal management areas, all of which may be identified by their locations on their prospective maps (s 5):
The purpose of the Policy is the coordination of approaches to coastal management, consistent with the Act. Part 2 of the Policy contains the provisions for development controls for coastal management areas. As such, Part 2 is divided into 5 divisions asserting development controls for the 4 coastal management areas of section 5 of the Act, as well as a division for general provisions.
Under this Part, various activities of coastal development “may be carried out on land [...] only with development consent” (reg 10(1)). Such development includes:
Development consent is then prohibited by the Policy for each of the coastal management areas in different circumstances. Such circumstances include:
12 Development on land within the coastal vulnerability area
Development consent must not be granted to development on land that is within the area identified as “coastal vulnerability area” on the Coastal Vulnerability Area Map unless the consent authority is satisfied that:
14 Development on land within the coastal use area
However, where development controls overlap, the priority with which to decide the prevailing controls is (reg 18):
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State Environmental Planning Policy (Coastal Management) 2018 (NSW), available on TimeBase's LawOne service.
Coastal Management Act 2016 (NSW), available on TimeBase's LawOne service.
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