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New South Wales Government
This suite of appendices examines the hazards associated with the various coastal processes. These hazards are perceived in terms of their interference with human use and amenity of the coastal zone. The various hazards described here include:
Beach erosion, shoreline recession and coastal entrance behaviour can markedly alter foreshore morphology and coastal bathymetry. If not properly catered for, such changes can imperil coastal developments and reduce amenity: houses built in the active erosion zone of a beach will be exposed to hazards; remorseless shoreline recession may provide a future risk to buildings currently outside the active erosion zone; training works at estuary entrances can foster erosion and threaten bridges and other coastal structures with collapse. All of these potential problems are capable of solution provided they are recognized at an appropriate point in the decision making process.
Sand drift is at best a nuisance and at worst a major hazard that, if uncontrolled, can overwhelm nearby developments or cause significant and permanent loss of sand from the beach system.
Low lying areas of the coast are at risk of flooding from coastal inundation and freshwater discharges. Coastal inundation is caused by a rise in Mean Sea Level (MSL) or by wave overwash across coastal barriers, such as dune systems and seawalls.
Slope and cliff stability problems are a threat to the structural integrity of buildings and works constructed on coastal bluffs, sea cliffs and sand dunes. Bluff slopes can fail due to landslip, sea cliffs can collapse and dune escarpments can slump, thereby putting buildings at risk.
The uncontrolled disposal of stormwater across the beach berm may create unsightly erosion areas and foster the migration of creek outlets.
Climate change may exacerbate all the above hazards.
Thus, the coastal zone is exposed to a variety of hazards that may threaten human activities and coastal amenity. In extreme cases, these hazards can lead to major financial loss. Notwithstanding such hazards, the pressure to develop additional areas of the coastline is intensifying.
An understanding of coastline hazards and their effects on developments and amenity is essential if the coastline is to be better managed. The solution lies first in the recognition of hazards and their impacts, and second, in the adoption of a balanced management approach.