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What's a Coastal Management Program?

The coast is one of our greatest assets. Our community values the coast for its environmental, social and economic benefits. But there are also many threats that have the potential to impact how we enjoy the coast both now and in the future.

We know there are concerns in our community about the changing coastal environment. Some changes we are already seeing and experiencing – for others we need to look further into the future for what is likely to happen.

A Coastal Management Program (CMP) sets the long-term strategy for managing our coast. It identifies risks to our coast and how to manage these now and into the future, so we can all continue to enjoy the benefits of the coast for years to come.

We’re required to prepare a CMP in line with the Coastal Management Act 2016 (CM Act) The diagram below shows the various stages of a CMP with more information available via the NSW Department of Planning and Environment website

Infographic showing the 5 stages of a Coastal Management Program

Source: NSW Department of Planning and Environment

Where is the CMP up to?

Over the past few years, we've completed stages 1 and 2 to set the foundations of the CMP. We’ve worked behind the scenes and talked to the community about how they use and value the coast. We’re now progressing with Stages 3 and 4.

The Scoping Study, which comprises stage 1 of the CMP process, identified a range of priority threats affecting the Port Stephens coastal zone. These included:

  • Coastal hazards such as coastal erosion, coastal inundation, tidal inundation and dune transgression;
  • Coastal structures and other activities on private land that extend onto public land, impacting public access and the environment;
  • Water quality impacts arising from diffuse sources of pollutants (urban and agricultural stormwater runoff), as well as point sources such as marinas and on-site sewage systems;
  • Acid drainage from acid sulfate soils; and
  • Biodiversity impacts associated with land clearing, pests, weeds and disease.

In stage 1, our scoping study determined that the main coastal hazards impacting Port Stephens are:

  • coastal erosion - the loss of land caused by tides, storms and sea level rise
  • coastal inundation - from both storm events, astronomical tides and sea level rise
  • dune transgression - caused by the movement of sand by the wind

In stage 2, we undertook a number of studies and modelled each of the above hazards across our coastal area for 2020 (present day), 2040, 2070 and 2120.

Further information about coastal hazards can be found here.

Now that we understand what the risks are, Stage 3 of the CMP involves working with our community to identify options for the management of our coastal zone.

What might management options look like?

One of the most effective ways to manage the risk of coastal hazards is through strategic land use planning and development controls. This will be one of the management options for the CMP explored in Stage 3. Find out more about management options under the ‘Have your say’ page and in the image below.

Infographic of CMP Management Options