Extension for coastal zone planning welcomed

Central Coast Council has welcomed news that a Coastal Management Amendment Bill is to be presented to State Parliament extending the timeline for councils to provide Coastal Management Programs (CMPs) for an additional two years.

With CMPs currently expected to be finalised by December 31 this year, Local Government Minister, Shelley Hancock, said the amendment bill would give coastal councils, many of which have been ravaged by fire, floods and a relentless pandemic, breathing room to move from their Coastal Zone Management Plans (CZMPs) to CMPs.

“COVID, bushfires and floods have rightly been a priority for many local councils up and down the NSW coast and we don’t want to see them at a further disadvantage when the deadline of December 31 this year hits,” Hancock said.

She said without the extension, around 35 councils, including Central Coast Council, yet to develop CMPs, would be unable to apply for funding under the Coastal and Estuary Grant Program to implement vital protection and rehabilitation works to their coastlines.

“The extra time would also allow councils to carry out planned emergency works during major coastal erosion events that are addressed in their CZMPs while they continue to develop a CMP,” she said.

This will come as a relief to residents, with fears previously expressed that the region would be vulnerable to any major storm events, such as the one which ravaged The Entrance North in June, 2020, with funding avenues cut off after December 31.

CMPs provide a framework for councils, government agencies and local communities to work together to set a long-term strategy to manage valuable coastal and estuary areas and identify actions needed through a council’s business planning and land-use planning systems for managing threats and risks to coastal areas now and into the future.

Central Coast Council Director Environment and Planning, Scott Cox, said the extension would be welcome.

“Whilst the Hunter Joint Organisation on behalf of Central Coast Council and 10 other Hunter Councils recently requested an appropriate three-year extension to the transitional arrangements, this two-year extension will provide some crucial time for Council to continue working through the stages in the NSW Coastal Management Manual – this includes undertaking technical studies and community engagement needed to support the development of the CMPs,” Cox said.

“Council staff are currently preparing two CMPs for our region – Tuggerah Lakes, Open Coast and Coastal Lagoons (which includes The Entrance North, Terrigal and Wamberal Beach).

“Council has also partnered with five other councils to develop the CMP for the Hawkesbury-Nepean River system which includes Brisbane Water; and (is) also working closely with Lake Macquarie City Council on the development of their CMP.

“Council recently completed the Stage 1 Scoping Studies for the Tuggerah Lakes CMP and for the Open Coast and Coastal Lagoons CMP.

“Council was recently awarded funding under the NSW Government’s 2020-2021 Coastal and Estuary Grants Program: $644,560 to complete stages two and three of our CMP for Tuggerah Lakes Estuary; and $326,667 to complete stage two of a CMP for Open Coast and Coastal Lagoons.

For more information on the CMP progress and the engagement completed earlier this year, go to https://www.yourvoiceourcoast.com/waterways.

Terry Collins