The Coastal Management Program – Coastal Hazards (CMP-CH) is a plan that will set Council’s direction for managing coastal hazards in the short to medium term, with the aim to reduce the impacts of coastal hazards over the long term. The management program will include prioritised management actions that will be implemented over the next 10 years. Council’s in NSW are required to develop these management programs under the new Coastal Management Act 2016.
Frequently asked questions
What is the Coastal Management Program – Coastal Hazards, and why are we doing it?
What are coastal hazards?
Coastal hazards are caused by processes such as waves, tides and currents, and occur when these processes impact on our land, assets and the community. Examples of coastal hazards include beach erosion and coastal inundation that occur during large coastal storms. Other hazards take place slowly such as recession of our beaches, and are the result of ongoing exposure and long term changes to coastal processes.
Which coastal hazards affect land in the Bega Valley?
In general there is relatively little existing development that is at risk from coastal hazards compared with other Councils in NSW. The main coastal hazards along our coastline include coastal erosion, long term recession of our beaches, inundation of low-lying land around estuaries and beaches during coastal storms, and the impact of our natural estuary entrances when they open to the sea.
Why have Council mapped coastal hazard areas?
All Councils in NSW are required to plan for coastal processes and coastal hazards, and to ensure that development is undertaken in accordance with state government legislation in this regard. The coastal hazard area maps have been developed to give Council, businesses and the community an understanding of areas potentially at risk of adverse coastal hazard impacts; such as loss of land from coastal erosion and flooding from coastal storms. By mapping coastal hazard areas, Council are working to ensure that future planning:
- Minimises impacts to development from coastal hazards
- Minimises impacts of inappropriate development on our coastal areas that can suffer from coastal hazards
- Is in accordance with new legislation
How are the coastal hazard areas determined?
In 2015 Council worked with coastal engineering consultants to undertake a study of coastal processes and hazards across our Shire. This included analysis of the impacts of past storms, as well as previous data sets like beach surveys and wave and tide records. This information, combined with a range of modelling, allowed the consultants to predict which areas along our coast are potentially at risk from coastal hazards.
What about climate change, how will it affect coastal hazards?
The most obvious impact of climate change will be increasing sea levels along our beaches and in our estuaries. While these increases are slow and cannot be seen by the naked eye, even by observing the beach over several years; tide records show that sea levels along the NSW coast have been steadily increasing on average over the past decades. NSW legislation requires climate change impacts to be considered in the development planning process, and Bega Valley Shire Council have adopted a projected sea level rise of 40 cm by 2050, and 90 cm by 2100 for this purpose. The rate of sea level rise is expected to increase in the coming decades, and higher water levels mean an increase in how often low-lying land around our estuaries and beaches is flooded. Our beaches will also be impacted by sea level rise and other climate change processes that are less well understood; and while the general trend is that beaches will erode with higher sea levels, each beach will respond differently depending on a range of factors such as orientation, sand sources and underlying geology.
How is Council planning for coastal hazards?
Council is using the best available information on coastal hazards when making decisions and providing advice about new development. Some types of new development will need to allow for climate change impacts that might occur up to the year 2100, however, coastal hazard maps have been produced for present day, year 2050 and year 2100. The changes in coastal hazard risk over time will also be considered in assessing new development. Where there is a risk that coastal hazards could result in emergency situations, such as storm erosion causing damage to a building or the safety of people, then Council in partnership with other agencies, such as the SES, is also preparing emergency action sub-plans to ensure that the community, emergency services and staff are prepared, and that appropriate steps of action will be taken.
How do I check if my property is in a coastal hazard area?
The coastal hazard maps are available here: http://begavalley.wrl.unsw.edu.au/index.php/coastal-management-programs/coastal-hazards/hazard-maps/, and are available to view in our community information drop-in sessions. They can also be provided by Council on request. Your Section 149 planning certificate will also indicate if your property is in a coastal hazard area.
My property is in a coastal hazard area, what does this mean for me?
Nothing has changed! It’s just that we now know more information about where our coastal hazard areas are and what the potential impacts might be. Much like bush fire prone land that most people are familiar with in the Bega Valley, if your property is in a coastal hazard area then Council may require that you make some additional considerations in any new development that you plan. This might require specific additional engineering assessments or adjustments to your development design; however, this would be determined on a case-by-case basis. In the extreme cases, there may be areas of your property that could be determined as being unsuitable for development, and these areas would be determined as part of additional engineering assessments that you would undertake as part of a development planning process. Property that is in a coastal hazard area may also have different insurance requirements, and landowners are encouraged to discuss these requirements with their own personal insurers.
I’m looking to purchase a property that is in a coastal hazard area, what do I need to consider?
If you are intending to undertake new development on the property, then additional assessments may be required as a part of the development application process. Like all engineering assessments, this may result in building designs being adjusted to reduce any risks from coastal hazards. There may be specific areas of the property that you cannot develop on, though these areas are unlikely to have changed from Council’s previous planning requirements. There may also be specific insurance requirements that you should consider for the property.
Who do I contact to find out more information?
For more information about the Coastal Management Program – Coastal Hazards, please contact Council’s Coordinator Environmental Management: Daniel Murphy (firstname.lastname@example.org); or our UNSW project Consultant Matt Blacka (email@example.com). For more information about planning requirements and development in a coastal hazard area, please contact Council’s planning department (firstname.lastname@example.org).