Posted on April 3, 2018 by Megan Hawley and Katie Mortimer

ALERT – The Coastal Management Act 2016 & Coastal Management SEPP have commenced

The Coastal Management Act 2016 (Act) and State Environmental Planning Policy (Coastal Management) 2018 (Coastal Management SEPP) commenced on 3 April 2018.

The Act has repealed the Coastal Protection Act 1979 (Former Act), and implements the coastal reforms first proposed by the NSW Government in 2015. In this post, we set out some of the key changes.

New coastal zone definition 

Section 5 of the Act has created 4 coastal management areas:

  1. the coastal wetlands and littoral rainforests area,
  2. the coastal vulnerability area,
  3. the coastal environment area,
  4. the coastal use area.

Different management objectives exist across the 4 coastal management areas. The  Coastal Management SEPP Maps which define the coastal management areas are operative and can be accessed here.

An LEP may amend the Coastal Management SEPP to identify a coastal management area, and if multiple areas apply to a single parcel of land, the Act imposes a hierarchy as to which coastal management objectives apply.

Coastal Management Programs 

As we previously blogged, the Act has introduced coastal management programs (CMPs) to replace the coastal zone management plans (CZMPs) that were required under the Former Act. CMPs will give effect to the management objectives of the coastal zone.

CZMPs that were in force under the Former Act will continue to have effect, until they are replaced by a CMP. However, CMPs will need to be prepared and adopted by 31 December 2021.

The Act introduces new provisions that empower CMPs to include actions that are to be implemented under:

  • Chapter 13 of the Local Government Act 1993 (LG Act) (that deals with strategic planning and financial management),
  • EPIs and DCPs made under the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 (EPA Act), and
  • by public authorities (other than the local council).

New obligations to have regard to CMPs

Division 4 of the Act requires local councils to have regard to CMPs when:

  • engaging in strategic planning under Chapter 13, Part 2 of the LG Act, and
  • preparing planning proposals and DCPs under the EPA Act.

Other public authorities must also have regard to CMPs and the coastal management manual when preparing and reviewing any plans of management that they are required to produce.

Coastal Management Manual 

The Act requires the Minister to publish a coastal management manual, which will impose mandatory requirements for CMPs.

Of note, the coastal management manual will provide guidance to local council’s on the integration of CMPs with the integrated planning and reporting framework obligations under Chapter 13 of the LG Act.

Other provisions of the Act to note 

  • The Act has abolished the NSW Coastal Panel, and established a new NSW Coastal Council,
  • There are new requirements for the granting of development consent under the EPA Act to development for the purpose of coastal protection works (see s27),
  • A consent authority may now impose conditions under s4.17 of the EPA Act, in relation to coastal protection works.

Coastal Management SEPP

The Coastal Management SEPP identifies the 4 new coastal management areas and provides for development controls across the 4 areas.

Importantly, the Coastal Management SEPP does not apply apply to any development applications that were lodged, but not finally determined before the Coastal Management SEPP commenced. In addition, the Coastal Management SEPP will not apply to certain applications for development consent, until 3 April 2019.

Read our earlier blogs on the Coastal Management Bill 2016 and coastal reforms here and here. 

Should you wish to discuss the new Act, please contact Megan Hawley, Partner on 8235 9703 or by email, at