Consultation is insufficient for Coastal Management Plan

Maps produced by different levels of government are showing different levels of risk. The NSW Government’s map (left) limits Coastal Hazards to beachfront suburbs (pink) but the Coastal Risk Australia map (right) shows many more areas at risk by 2100 at highest tide with sea level rise of 0.74m (blue)Maps produced by different levels of government are showing different levels of risk. The NSW Government’s map (left) limits Coastal Hazards to beachfront suburbs (pink) but the Coastal Risk Australia map (right) shows many more areas at risk by 2100 at highest tide with sea level rise of 0.74m (blue)

Waterfront landowners in the suburbs of Kincumber South, Yattalunga, Saratoga, Davistown, MacMasters Beach, Copacabana, Avoca, Terrigal, Wamberal and even parts of East and West Gosford have been encouraged to pay close attention to the NSW Government’s Draft Coastal Management State Environmental Planning Policy (SEPP).

Mr Pat Aiken, Secretary of the Coastal Residents Association, said the consultation period for the community to respond to the draft SEPP, which closes on December 23, is too short. Mr Aiken said the one community meeting scheduled for the Central Coast, at Erina on December 9, is inadequate, given that the local region would be “one of the worst affected by sea level rise in the whole country”. The NSW Department of Planning and Environment, in conjunction with the Office of Environment and Heritage, is responsible for developing the new coastal management framework.

The new SEPP is intended to support the State Government’s new Coastal Management Act 2016. “The Coastal Management SEPP will integrate and improve current coastal-related SEPPs and ensure that future coastal development is appropriate and sensitive to our coastal environment, and that we maintain public access to beaches and foreshore areas,” said the NSW Department of Planning and Environment web pages on the draft SEPP. “Once published, the Coastal Management SEPP will be the single land use planning policy for coastal development.

“The Coastal Management SEPP will also better equip councils and coastal communities to plan for, and effectively respond to, coastal challenges such as major storms, coastal erosion and climate change impacts.” Central Coast Council already has a Local Environmental Plan (LEP) and Development Control Plans (DCP) that include coastal hazard maps and provisions, which means mapped areas will become part of a Coastal Vulnerability area. Mr Aiken said the two zones that local land owners need to pay attention to when examining the draft SEPP are Coastal Wetlands and Coastal Vulnerability. The Department of Planning website links to a mapping tool that demonstrates how different parts of the Coast would be classified under the new SEPP. “People have a short time to look at their own particular situation and make a formal submission,” Mr Aiken said.

“The reality of the State Government’s mapping shows that all ocean frontage property will be classifi ed as in the Coastal Vulnerability area,” he said. According to Mr Aiken, land deemed “vulnerable” to future hazards will be subject to additional scrutiny for development and could drop in value because potential buyers will be made aware of its status when they obtain a Section 149 planning certifi cate. This will be the case even if the property is only partly in the coastal zone.

Mr Aiken said the maps that have been released with the draft SEPP do not include properties around Brisbane Water that are already known to be vulnerable to sea level rise and properties located near coastal wetlands may also be impacted. The NSW Government has pledged, as part of its coastal management agenda, to spend $87 million over fi ve years on initiatives to protect vulnerable areas including revetments, beach nourishment and the building of groynes. Mr Aiken said the funding made available was inadequate and both NSW Government and Federal Government have hand balled the problem of sea level rise to local government “which doesn’t have the money to address the problem”.

As a supporter of the amalgamation of Gosford and Wyong Councils, Mr Aiken said he was concerned that the direction of the new Central Coast Council was still based on “planned retreat” from fl ood-prone suburbs, with no just terms compensation for any property lost due to a coastal hazard and no will to work hand-in-hand with the community to develop an adaptation plan. “Look at what the Central Coast Council is doing to the people of Wamberal,” he said. “The people of the Central Coast should be demanding multiple community meetings during the draft SEPP consultation period. “If you live on the beachfront or adjacent to wetlands, check that the area hasn’t been reclassifi ed.

“If you have a property anywhere around Brisbane Water that you know is fl ood-prone that hasn’t been reclassifi ed, don’t foolishly think you are off the hook. “This consultation is insuffi cient, the time allowed is too short, there is not enough detail and there are omissions and errors in the mapping. “Once this SEPP goes through, it will be the green light to stick it into every coastal resident,” he said. According to the Department of Planning, it is proposed that the Coastal Management SEPP will be reviewed within a year of commencement and again within fi ve years of commencement, to provide a formal opportunity to consider how the policy is operating in practice and review mapped areas based on new evidence. It will be possible for councils and members of the public to suggest changes to the maps at any time.

Media release, Nov 14, 2016 Courtney Taylor, NSW Planning and Environment Interview, Nov 14, 2016 Pat Aiken, Coastal Residents Association Jackie Pearson, journalist

Similar stories