Frequently Asked Questions

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Frequently Asked Questions


​The State Government requires all coastal councils in New South Wales to prepare Coastal Zone Management Plans in accordance with state policies and guidelines.

The risks to our coast from coastal processes, climate change and sea level rise are now well recognised. Coffs Harbour City Council therefore resolved to prepare a Coastal Zone Management Plan for the Coffs Harbour coastline, to define the level of risk from coastal hazards and provide a co-ordinated approach to management of coastal hazards.


​The NSW Government Guidelines for preparing a Coastal Zone Management Plan include the following stages:

Stage 1: Identify hazards/management issues and their severity (the Coffs Harbour Coastal Processes and Hazards Definition Study)
Stage 2: Identify and evaluate management options
Stage 3: Propose management actions and an implementation schedule

Council at its meeting of the 14th of February 2013 adopted the Coffs Harbour Coastal Zone Management Plan completing all 3 stages. The plan was then certified in August 2018.


​The NSW government has reformed the legislation regulating Coastal Management. Now that the Coffs Harbour CZMP is certified Council is reviewing the options for the recognition of the Coffs Harbour Coastal Processes and Hazards Definition Study.


​The hazard and inundation maps show the likelihood of coastal hazards or inundation occurring during a storm event. Each map represents a different timeframe - Immediate (now), 2050 and 2100. At each timeframe, the maps show the extent of coastal erosion or inundation that is 'almost certain', 'unlikely' and 'rare'.


​There are three lines adjacent to the coastline on each map. The lines show the forecast change of the shoreline position that is 'almost certain', 'unlikely' and 'rare'. The lines are adopted across the length of the beach. This is because all locations along a beach have the potential to be affected, depending upon the wave height, direction and water level of storms, with and without sea level rise.
The blue line indicates the 'almost certain' change in coastline position as a result of normal coastal processes without sea level rise.

The yellow line indicates the 'unlikely' change in coastline position as a result of maximum recorded beach erosion, at any location on the beach. For the 2050 and 2100 maps, the line also includes sea level rise of 0.4 metres and 0.9 metres, respectively.

The orange line refers to the 'rare' change in coastline position as a result of extreme beach erosion. For 2050 and 2100, the line shows the worst case scenario of climate change or sea level rise of 1.4 m by 2100.


​Coastal inundation is represented by the shaded areas around coastal creeks and rivers that are connected to the ocean. These areas are low lying so could be inundated due to elevated ocean levels. Each map shows blue, yellow and orange areas which again refer to 'almost certain', 'unlikely' and 'rare' probabilities.

The blue area refers to the 'almost certain' extent of inundation as a result of a 1-in-20 year storm surge, which includes high tide, wind, waves and air pressure during a storm.

The yellow area indicates the 'unlikely' extent of inundation during a 1-in-100 year storm surge. For the 2050 and 2100 maps, the inundation area also includes sea level rise of 0.4 metres and 0.9 metres, respectively.

The orange area refers to the 'rare' extent of inundation during a 1-in-100 year storm surge. For the 2050 and 2100 maps, the area also includes the worst case scenario sea level rise of 1.4 m by 2100.


​This means that your property is identified as having a risk of coastal erosion or inundation in the future. As explained above, the maps show that the likelihood of this maybe 'almost certain' 'unlikely' or 'rare'. The Study and hazard mapping is the starting point of the process to put in place management options to deal with these potential hazards.


​The Australian coastline is already at risk from events such as cyclones and severe storms. The development of the Coastal Zone Management Plan - of which this Study is the first step - is designed to minimise the forecast, long-term impacts of severe weather and sea level rise.


​The NSW Government requires that all properties within identified coastal hazard areas are subject to a Section 149 Planning notification, under clauses 7 and 7a of Schedule 4 of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979. When land is bought or sold, the Conveyancing Act 1919 requires a Section 149 Planning Certificate to be attached to the contract of sale. Section 149 Planning Certificates, also known as zoning certificates, are legal documents issued by Council under the provisions of the Act. They contain information about how a property may be used and restrictions on development that may apply. Such information includes, but is not limited to, the zoning of land, permissible and prohibited land uses, details of exempt and complying development and controls for development or hazards, such as coastal erosion, flooding or bush fire.

The Section 149 certificate has been updated on all properties within the coastal zone. It currently states:

Council has undertaken an assessment of coastal hazards along the coastline in the Coffs Harbour Local Government Area. The Coffs Harbour Coastal Processes and Hazard Definition Study 2010 has been produced and the land referred to in this certificate is included in that study. The study includes a prediction of future hazards based upon the historical rate of coastal recession (erosion) and the impacts of climate change and sea level rise, taking into account the NSW sea level rise planning benchmarks. Those benchmarks specify an increase above 1990 mean sea level of 40cm by 2050 and 90cm by 2100. Council is currently undertaking a Coastal Zone Management Study and Plan which will provide more detailed information about the properties at risk from coastal hazards and will revise existing development controls relating to coastal hazards.

However, as work progresses on the Coastal Zone Management Plan and the mitigation measures eventually adopted to deal with any identified hazard, the Section 149 notifications on the properties within the hazard area will be reviewed.


​The NSW Coastal Protection Act 1979 requires councils to determine the risk from coastal hazards and sea level rise occurring on land in the coastal zone. As noted above, under NSW legislation, Council has a duty of care to notify property owners of this risk with notation on Section 149 certificates. Any change in a council's classification of properties can have some impact on property values. However, Council has implemented similar classification systems, for example for flood, bushfire and acid sulphate soils risk.


​One of the high priority actions contained within the Coastal Zone Management Plan is the formulation of updated local policy and planning controls to address development affected by coastal hazards. This action was seen as necessary as Council’s current Coastal Policy and planning controls are very simplistic and do not provide adequate guidance for the range of sea level rise scenarios, planning timeframes and hazard areas associated with the coastal zone.

Council commenced a Coastal Hazard Planning Controls project in 2014 which proposes a new local Coastal Policy and a revised set of planning controls that will integrate the recommendations of all the previous work into Council’s Local Environmental Plan 2013 and Development Control Plan 2015. The coastal hazard areas identified for the different planning timeframes and sea level rise scenarios that are used in the planning controls have been defined in Council's Coastal Processes & Hazard Definition Study and Coastal Zone Management Plan.

All of the draft documents and maps included with the Coastal Hazard Planning Controls project were placed on public exhibition in early-mid 2015.

On the 10th December 2015 Council deferred the progression of the Coastal Hazard Planning Controls project to allow for the NSW Coastal Reform process to be finalized. On the 8th December 2016 Council, while considering issues relating to the NSW Coastal Reforms, resolved to consider a further report on the Coastal Hazard Planning Controls project following certification of the Coffs Harbour Coastal Zone Management Plan 2013. The CZMP will be submitted for certification in late 2017.

It is important to note that there are existing local and state planning controls that relate to the coastal zone which guide development - and these plans and policies will continue to apply. At the State level, for example, the NSW Coastal Policy (1997) and the State Environment Planning Policy – 71 (Coastal Protection) stipulates that development can have no adverse effect on or from coastal processes and hazards.