A perfect storm of irresponsible planning: the beach erosion hazard at Boundary Creek, South Ballina Beach, NSW

Summary. Long-term shoreline recession, a rising sea level and the low, narrow dune barrier at Boundary Creek present a beach erosion hazard that has been re-examined and upgraded in this study. It is predicted that by 2050–2100 there will be no front dune left, greatly increasing the risk of sea water flooding during extreme erosion events. Despite this hazard being documented in a 2003 report to Ballina Shire Council, it is not recognised in any planning documents. In particular, the State Government has not to-date published the necessary State Environmental Planning Policy (Coastal Management) 2018 Coastal Vulnerability Area Map for NSW. Recognising that planning for coastal hazards can impose additional development controls that can negatively affect development potential and land values, concerns are raised about the almost two year delay for adopting the Coastal Vulnerability Area Map and the failure to recognise as yet undeveloped coastal hazard areas.

Council’s response. None. They must be hoping that these difficult land use planning and management issues will go away.

The State Government’s response. The Department of Planning, Industry and Environment responded in April 2020 that it is the consent authority’s responsibility (i.e. usually Council) to consider risk of a coastal hazard and that Councils are responsible for identifying and managing coastal hazards. As usual with Government bureaucracies, it seems that nobody then is responsible for anything.

Download the report: SEPP_CM_2_CDNInc200309v1

Historical 1889-2019 shoreline recession (red area) at Boundary Creek, South Ballina Beach, NSW. Green dotted lines are 2050 (33 m shoreline recession) and 2100 (83 m) vegetation line predictions.

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