CEMAC Report October 12th 2016

CEMAC Report on Coastal Management Progress

Coastwatchers Committee Meeting October 12th 2016; written by Reina Hill

The new Coastal Management Act 2016 communicates the NSW Government’s vision for coastal management. It 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 Act passed through parliament in May, but may not be assented to until January 2017 when the new SEPP is finalised.

The new Coastal Management Manual will include a synthesis of recent science relating to sea level rise and guidance on understanding coastal and estuarine erosion, and provide advice on inundation risk assessments. It will support councils to identify and assess coastal hazards, including those associated with sea level rise. It will also consolidate a number of existing guidelines and fill any critical gaps that have been identified with Councils.

The new Coastal Management state Environment Planning Policy (SEPP) is due to be finalised when coastal areas are defined and should be announced very soon. The new Coastal Management Act divides the coastal zone into four coastal management areas. These four areas are:

  • the coastal wetlands and littoral rainforests area
  • the coastal vulnerability area
  • the coastal environment area
  • the coastal use area

The four areas are defined in the new Act and will be mapped as part of the new Coastal Management State Environmental Planning Policy (SEPP). This legislation will establish clear, outcome-oriented management objectives for each area to ensure councils apply appropriate management tools and development controls.

The NSW Coastal Council will have an on-going function to commission technical or scientific reviews on matters such as sea level rise and provide advice to the Minister as required and will form part of the best available scientific information for councils to use to determine a sea level rise scenario to adopt for planning purposes.

NSW Government Support for Coastal Councils. The Government has committed support for local government with the technical advice they need to make credible balanced and sensible decisions and will be consistent with discussions with the Chief Scientist and Engineer. It will not prescribe state-wide sea level rise benchmarks, as decisions on associated risks need to consider local circumstances, including both the likelihood and consequences of sea level rise, the amount and type of development at risk and local social, economic and environmental factors, and will involve consultation with local communities.

The NSW Government will provide financial assistance of $83.6m to Councils for coastal management over the next five years from 2016/17 to 2020/21. This includes $69m of new funding and $14.6m to be redirected from existing coastal management spending. The Government has committed to a further $5m each year following 2021 to continue support for the coastal management framework.

Coastal management at a local level

A Coastal Management Plan for the Eurobodalla will be prepared under the new legislative arrangements due for completion in 2017.
The new NSW Coastal Management State Environmental Planning Policy (SEPP) is expected to be exhibited soon.
The new Coastal Management Act will come into force when the SEPP is finalised. ESC work will align with the new Coastal Management Reforms, though it seems that not many of the recommended changes to the Bill were made by the Minister and the Dept and only two of Council’s recommendations were adopted in consideration of Coastal Management Reforms, being:

  1. an expert definition of beach (as recommended by Prof Andy Short) and
  2. to maintain purchase of foreshore land, to provide on-going community access as an objective of the previous Act

Eurobodalla Council Flood Studies already undertaken are:

  • Wagonga Inlet, Kianga and Dalmeny Flood Study (adopted)
  • Wharf Road Coastal Management Plan (adopted)
  • Tomakin, Mossy Point, Broulee and Mogo Flood Study (exhibited)
  • Tuross Estuary Plan Review (work needs to be done under the new process to get it certified)

New Council and Mayor It will be interesting to see what happens to the CEMAC under the new Council and how coastal management will be approached in the future, especially as some newly elected councillors have expressed views about Council’s Interim Sea Level Rise Policy as being too draconian and affecting property values.

In reality, Council has little choice but to abide by state legislative requirements and align with the new Coastal Management Reforms.

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