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New South Wales Government
Coastal developments are subject to a variety of hazards, the nature and consequences of which are described in Appendix C. Coastline hazards can cause enormous damage, financial loss and social disruption to properties and communities at risk.
Coastline hazard conservation and management aims to achieve a balance between the use of the coast to meet human needs and desires on the one hand, and the financial loss and social disruption associated with hazard events on the other. This is done by attempting to ensure that hazards are avoided in the first instance and otherwise ensuring that the damage potential of properties at risk is consistent with that risk.
The major categories of options for managing coastline hazards are:
This suite of appendices describes these four broad options for managing coastline hazards. First, however, the planning process in New South Wales is described in some detail in Appendix D2 because of its fundamental importance to the effective control of the damage potential of future developments. Next, planning environmental approaches, development control conditions, dune management and structural measures are described in Appendices D3, D4, D5 and D6 respectively. Finally, a strategy for planning under uncertainty is presented in Appendix D7. This is of importance to coastline planning because of uncertainties in coastline hazards and in the effects of climate change.
Environmental planning measures are broad in scope and are aimed at ensuring that coastal developments are not placed at an unacceptable risk. Such measures can be an effective means of avoiding future damage in relatively undeveloped areas of the coastline, as well as facilitating the most appropriate forms of protection and land use for the coast generally.
Development control conditions consist of siting, design and construction requirements on a site specific, development specific and hazard specific basis. Such controls are more limited in scope than broader planning measures, and are aimed at limiting the damage potential at individual building sites. They can be an effective means of containing the damage potential of new developments and redevelopments.
Rehabilitation and management of dune systems, including control of beach access, can be an effective contribution to the provision of a buffer zone, where appropriate and possible, between development and hazards.
Protective works, which encompass measures such as seawalls, groynes and beach nourishment, provide protection for existing developments at risk.
Often, coastline hazard management consists of a mix of all management options. Needless to say, if management is to be cost effective and successful, it must be based on a thorough understanding of the coastal processes affecting the area of interest and their associated hazards.
There are two aspects to coastline hazard management: the protection of existing developments at risk; and the need to ensure that future developments are not placed at unjustifiable risk.
Protection works may appear to be the only way to manage the former; environmental planning measures and development controls may appear to be the only way to manage the latter. This is not necessarily so.
Other measures commonly used to manage existing properties at risk include voluntary purchase and removal of properties at undue risk, often in conjunction with particular zonings. Protection works may be incorporated in new developments to address existing and/or future hazard problems, providing the social and economic benefits associated with the development justify its impact. Dune management measures may be used in both instances.
The merit approach of the Policy requires that environmental planning factors, such as social, economic, recreational, aesthetic and ecological issues, be weighed along with hazard considerations and beach amenity requirements when making decisions regarding coastal management options for specific sites or for sections of the coastline.