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Key departmental publications, e.g. annual reports, budget papers and program guidelines are available in our online archive.

Much of the material listed on these archived web pages has been superseded, or served a particular purpose at a particular time. It may contain references to activities or policies that have no current application. Many archived documents may link to web pages that have moved or no longer exist, or may refer to other documents that are no longer available.

NSW Coastline Management Manual

New South Wales Government
September 1990

ISBN 0730575063

Section 2: The Coastline Hazard Policy


The primary objective of the Government's Coastline Hazard Policy is to reduce the impact of coastline hazards on individual owners and occupiers of coastal lands, and to reduce private and public losses resulting from such hazards. Hazards peculiar to the coastline must be recognised in the design of new developments, in the planning of changed land use patterns and in the protection of present developments at risk. In this way there will be a reduction in the future call on state, council and private funds to:

There will also be a reduction in the risk to volunteer and emergency personnel in emergency situations.

In formulating this Policy, the New South Wales Government had regard to two important facts:

Important features of the Coastline Hazard Policy are:

A statement of the policy is in Appendix A.


To achieve these objectives the policy provides for:

(I) identification of hazards and preparation of coastline management plans;

(ii) construction of protective works and measures to reduce the risk and impact of hazards in existing developed areas;

(iii) construction of works to enhance and protect the amenity and beauty of the State's more heavily used recreational beaches; and

(iv) specialist technical advice in respect of any of the foregoing activities.


Management of the coastal zone is primarily the responsibility of local councils. This responsibility should be discharged through the preparation and implementation of plans of management in accordance with normal local planning and development controls.

Application of the policy can best be achieved through the development of a coastline management plan by the local council. Important steps in the formulation of such a plan include the formation of a coastline management committee, the undertaking of coastal process and hazard definition studies, and the undertaking of a coastline management study.

This Manual, outlining guidelines and principles, will assist local councils in dealing with development proposals and in preparing and implementing plans of management. The Manual also provides guidance to those involved with development proposed in proximity to the coastline and to those whose property is threatened by coastal hazards.

All Government agencies are required to comply with the policy, and in so doing, give due regard to social, economic, aesthetic, recreational and ecological factors, as well as coastal process factors.

The State Government, through the Public Works Department, the Soil Conservation Service, the Department of Planning and other relevant authorities, will provide advice and assistance to local councils on technical matters relevant to the coastline.


The Policy requires that other 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 developments.

In the short term, it is likely that application of the Policy will involve the assessment of development applications on an individual basis.

In the long term, the preparation and implementation of balanced coastline management plans will incorporate the merit approach in its fullest sense. Once this situation has been reached, the need for the detailed analysis of specific proposals will be significantly reduced as the management plan should accommodate most situations.


With respect to liability in negligence for decisions made and advice furnished by councils and advisory bodies regarding hazardous coastal land, it is, and always has been the case that a council or other body acting reasonably and in good faith has the protection of common law.

Nevertheless, the Government proposes to introduce legislation providing exculpation from liability in respect of certain advice or actions concerning coastline hazards. It is likely that this will be given effect by amendment to the Coastal Protection Act by introducing a clause similar to Section 582A of the Local Government Act which deals with this issue in regard to flooding.