Recent Amendments to the Coastal Protection Act

Post by Rachel

The Coastal Protection Amendment Act has passed both houses of State Parliament and will become law in early 2011. The amendments will introduce measures into the existing coastal protection legislation to address climate change impacts, including projected sea level rise.

The changes will see the establishment of a Coastal Panel to advise the Minister and councils on coastal management issues. The panel may determine applications for long term coastal protection works where the council does not have a coastal zone management plan in place.

The amendments will allow for emergency coastal protection works to be placed in authorized locations where houses are known to be at risk from erosion. Pearl Beach, Wamberal, North Entrance and Hargraves Beach are among the twelve authorised locations where emergency coastal protection works can be undertaken.

A landowner or occupier can only place emergency coastal protection works when beach erosion is considered imminent or likely to be imminent only once for any land parcel and once construction has commenced the works are only allowed to remain in place for a maximum of 12 months.

During this time a landowner can lodge a development application for a more permanent protection structure and then the works can remain in place until the application is determined. The development application can be for extending the use of sandbags and longer-term hard engineering works such as seawalls, revetments, groynes and beach nourishment.

Beach erosion is considered imminent, or likely to be imminent, when the distance between the most seaward part of a wall of the existing residence and the most landward extent of the sand dune erosion escarpment is less than 10 metres. Emergency coastal works are to be placed on private land wherever possible, but can be placed on public lands provided that they do not restrict public access or present a public safety risk.

Four types of emergency coastal protection works are permitted; geotextile sand-container toe protection works, placed sandbag toe protection works, sandbag toe protection; or beach nourishment. Beach nourishment works must use imported sand obtained with a relevant licence and not sand from the beach or the dune. Failure to place emergency coastal protection works in accordance with the Act is an offence.

Council can charge an annual property based coastal management fee for land that benefits from coastal protection services where the current or former landowner has constructed long term protection works or jointly constructed these works with council. This fee is to be used for the maintenance and repair of coastal protection works or to manage the impacts of beach erosion elsewhere.

Out of fifteen coastal ‘hot spots’ identified along the NSW coastline, three (The Entrance North, Noraville and Norah Head) are in Wyong Shire and one (Wamberal/Terrigal) is in the Gosford area. These are locations where five or more houses or public roads are at imminent risk as a result of coastal erosion. Under the Act amendments, Wyong and Gosford Councils will be required to finish their coastal zone management plans for the hot spot areas within 12 months.

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