The Coastal Management Act 2016 (CM Act) defines four coastal management areas that make up the coastal zone which include the coastal wetlands and littoral rainforests area, coastal vulnerability area, coastal environment area and coastal use area.
The State Environmental Planning Policy (Coastal Management) 2018 (CM SEPP), currently maps three of these areas, using the best available information. The CM SEPP does not yet include maps of the coastal vulnerability area.
The coastal vulnerability area is the area affected by coastal hazards defined by the CM Act, which include beach erosion, shoreline recession, coastal lake or watercourse entrance instability, coastal inundation, tidal inundation and coastal cliff or slope instability.
Councils may prepare a planning proposal to map the coastal vulnerability area in their Local Environmental Plan (LEP), using existing information or from detailed studies undertaken during the Coastal Management Program process. This information would also guide the development of strategic planning and development controls to assist with managing coastal hazards where they present a risk to public safety, property, use and enjoyment or economic activity along the coast.
Coastal vulnerability area maps can address one or all of the coastal hazards affecting land in a local government area where they are relevant and may be included in the CM SEPP. It is important that sufficient time and involvement is provided to the community where coastal vulnerability maps are developed.
To ensure appropriate consideration of coastal hazards in development assessment, the CM SEPP includes an obligation for consent authorities, which includes Council, to consider coastal hazards. The existing information on coastal hazards within Council’s Shoalhaven Local Environmental Plan (LEP) 2014 and Shoalhaven Development Control Plan (DCP) 2014, continues to apply when considering development applications in the coastal zone.
The intent of the Stage 1 – Scoping Study, which is being prepared to legally align with the CM Act and the NSW Coastal Management Manual is to review the adequacy of this existing information to inform the scope of the CMP. The Scoping Study will identify if improvements may be necessary to the existing information or there are any potential gaps in information or if further investigation and assessment may be required in Stages 2 and 3 based on the best available scientific information. As part of the Scoping Study process and Stages 2 information prepared by the State Government including the Sea Level Rise – Science and Synthesis for NSW, The NSW Estuary Tidal Inundation Exposure Assessment and Coastal Erosion in NSW – Statewide Exposure Assessment will be used to assist Council to identify where existing information needs to be reviewed or where additional studies may be required.