Coastal Management

Beaches, headlands, littoral rainforests, dunes, creeks and estuaries are all key assets of the MidCoast coastline. Locals and visitors alike flock to these places to enjoy swimming, walking, surfing and many other recreational and relaxation activities.

The beaches vary from urbanised environments like Blackhead or Forster, to long strips of natural coastline like Harrington Beach, Crowdy Bay, Nine Mile Beach and Treachery / Yagon Beach extending down to Hawks Nest.

The key assets of the coastline are the heart of the coastal villages which have their own unique beach cultures and local economies with the impressive coastline as the natural backdrop.

Why do we need to manage our coastline?

The interaction of waves, winds, tides and sea levels on our coast is extremely complex. During storms these interactions can impact on beach users and landowners. Storm waves and tides may cause erosion and the loss of land, while wave over-wash can inundate land and assets behind the beach.

The frequency and intensity of these coastal hazards are expected to increase in the future and therefore our exposure to coastal risk is also expected to increase.

What's at risk from coastal hazards?

Community assets at risk include a mix of built, natural and recreational assets such as access tracks, car parks, nature reserves, important habitat, roads, stormwater outlets, sewer and water services. In some places even private land and houses are at risk.

The NSW Government has identified some 15 coastal 'hotspots' along NSW coastline where the impact of coastal hazards and the risk to assets is particularly high. Two of those hotspots are located within the MidCoast Region - at Jimmys Beach near Hawks Nest and at Old Bar / Manning Point.  For more detail on these two hotspots, visit the "NSW coastal hotspots on the MidCoast" section below. 

Coastal dunes provide a vital buffer against erosion that often provide protection to land and assets behind the beach. Damage to dune vegetation by pedestrians, 4WDs, and beachfront residents reduces the ability of a dune to capture and store sand, reducing the storm buffer provided by the dunes.

The NSW Government supports councils to prepare coastal zone management plans and NSW legislation sets out the legal process for preparing these plans. A coastal zone management plan defines the coastal ‘risks’ (or hazards), the timeframes over which to define the risks (i.e. present day, 2060 and 2100), and suggests a range of options to address the coastal risks.  You can read more and view the current MidCoast CZMPs, in the section "Coastal Zone Management Plans" below.

Coastal Zone Management Plans

Under the Coastal Protection Act 1979, the NSW government requires all coastal councils to prepare Coastal Zone Management Plans (CZMP).

These plans provide management options to address risks from coastal hazards along the coastline within the Local Government Area. They also estimate coastal recession due to future storm events and sea level rise, and identify management options to address affected areas.

MidCoast Council aims to produce a single unified Coastal Management Program (CMP) (under the NSW Coastal Management Act 2016) for our entire coastline by 2021 (excluding identified hotspots). For the time being, we are proceeding with two separated Coastal Zone Management Plans, based on the pre-merger Council boundaries.

CZMPs and CMPs provide detailed, high quality information on coastal hazards which we use in coastal zone planning and protection. The NSW Government requirements for Coastal Zone Management include the following principal stages:

Stage 1: Conduct a Coastal Hazards Study, which identifies and evaluates hazards and management issues.

For a list of coastal hazard studies and historical coastal management produced by Council, visit the tab below.

Stage 2: Produce a Coastal Zone Management Plan - (CZMP). This looks at risk levels for coastal assets, formulates management options and develops an implementation schedule.

The following CZMPs have been developed for the MidCoast Council area:

The Manning Valley CZMP(PDF, 5MB) covers the area between Black Head in the south and Crowdy Bay / Diamond Head in the north). This plan excludes the beaches of Old Bar and Manning Point, which will have a dedicated CMP as they are identified as a NSW Coastal hotspot.  This plan has been adopted by Council and submitted to the NSW State Minister for the Environment for certification.

The Great Lakes CZMP covers the open coastline from Nine Mile Beach (Black Head) to Yacaaba Head at the southern end of Bennetts Beach. The developed beaches have been given particular focus, including Tuncurry (Nine Mile Beach), Forster Main, One Mile, Seven Mile, Elizabeth, Boomerang, Blueys, Sandbar Beach, Seal Rocks Number One, Seal Rocks Boat and Bennetts beaches. This plan has been adopted by Council and submitted to the NSW State Minister for the Environment for certification.

Notification by MidCoast Council - Coastal Management - Great Lakes CZMP August 2016

A         Table 1.3 and 1.4 of the Great Lakes CZMP 2016, are intended as a summary of information only. The level of risk to specific land and assets in the coastal zone was identified by combining the likelihood of a coastal hazard occurring and consequence of the coastal hazards if the hazard did occur.

The risk-based approach used in the Great Lakes CZMP was adapted from the Australian Standard Risk Management Principles and Guidelines (AS/NZS ISO 31000:2009) and is explained in detail in the Great  Lakes Coastal Zone Management Plan: Options Study 2015 (Appendix A) ("Options Study").

For a complete list of assets assessed at risk of coastal erosion and recession, wave runup and over wash using this approach, the asset register in the Options Study should be used. For an assessment of the degree of likelihood of these coastal hazards occurring at various beaches the subject of the CZMP - see Section 2.2 of the Option Study, including the assessment of coastal hazards at Blueys and Boomerang Beaches as unlikely.

B         Table 1.4 of the CZMP incorrectly includes the words 'extreme to high risk' in both the heading to the table and in the heading to the 3rd, 4th and 5th columns. The table relates to all levels of risk.         

A separate CZMP - Jimmys Beach(PDF, 8MB) has been created, as it is identified as a NSW Coastal erosion hotspot. Myall Lakes and Smiths Lake are also not included in the Great Lakes CZMP, as they each have a separate estuary coastal zone management plan.

For more information on the CZMPs for hotspots (Old Bar / Manning Point and Jimmys Beach), please visit the Coastal Hotspots section below

NSW Coastal Hotspots on the MidCoast

Jimmys Beach

In conjunction with a major dredging operation currently underway in the Eastern Channel of the Lower Myall River, to remove 120,000 cubic metres of sand, we are in the process of placing 20,000 cubic metres onto Jimmys Beach to renourish and provide a buffer for upcoming storm events. June and July's storms and large swells eroded the previous buffer that had been in place since August 2019. As part of the dredging project, 20,000 cubic metres will go to Jimmy's Beach now with the remaining 100,000 cubic metres being placed on the stockpile at Winda Woppa for future renourishment of the beach when needed.


We are currently trialling an innovative project which is expected to deliver significant improvements to the ecology of the Lower Myall River, via Eastern Channel dredging, ecological restoration of the Ramsar-listed Corrie Island, and a long term, gradual supply of sand to replenish Jimmys Beach.  The project is funded by $4.1 million in Australian and NSW Government funding matched with Council contributions.  

A sand transfer system involving a hopper, pumping system and pipeline has been built to transfer sand from Winda Woppa stockpile to replenish Jimmys Beach.

This option will provide a long term and more gradual supply of sand to Jimmys Beach, reducing the need to rely on trucking in sand in response to emergency storm events. Rock walls, groynes and other structures have all been examined, but establishing an ongoing sand nourishment program is the most financially sustainable option for maintaining Jimmys Beach and to provide a buffer to protect The Boulevarde behind it. Once operational, it's expected to reduce the total cost of protecting and maintaining the Beach from the current $600,000 per year to $200,000.

This is the first time such a scheme will be utilised for managing an erosion hotspot in NSW.

Old Bar / Manning Point

Council has received funding of $160,000 from the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH) to prepare a Coastal Management Program (CMP) under the NSW Coastal Management Act 2016 for Old Bar and Manning Point Beaches. Council will match this funding with a further $160,000 to progress the Plan.

Due to the eroding nature of these beaches and the impact that this and future sea level rise is likely to have on these beaches and on the settlements of Old Bar and Manning Point in particular, it was agreed between OEH and Council that these beaches deserved further investigation into the nature of the coastal hazard and the possible responses available to Council and the community.

We plan to use Ground Penetrating Radar to study the nature of sub-surface conditions to more accurately define the land most likely to be at risk from coastal erosion and inundation in the future. We will then undertake a cost-benefit analysis on the management options available for these communities before selecting an appropriate management regime for these beaches. We will also revisit the development controls being applied to these areas as part of this work.

We anticipate significant on-going consultation with these communities in the development of this plan, continuing regular meetings we've been holding with community representatives from Old Bar and Manning Point to discuss this project.

Sand Scraping Trial

With funding of $45,000 from OEH which we've matched, we're undertaking a sand scraping trial along the main part of Old Bar Beach in front of the surf club. The trial involves using earth moving equipment on the Beach for about 10 days, which will place a sand buffer along a section of the Beach, from just south of the surf club (in line with Kolang Street) to the northern point of the Old Bar Caravan Park.

Sand scraping is an interim measure that works by physically shifting sand from the intertidal zone (between high and low tide) and placing it against the current erosion scar on a Beach. The trial works are designed to create a sand buffer that will act as a short term management solution. The sand buffer is designed to be eroded by the ocean, protecting the existing coastline on a temporary basis.

The trial will implement an erosion measure that is widely used along the NSW coastline to provide a temporary buffer from storm impacts. This trial will gauge how effective sand scraping is for Old Bar Beach, as not all locations benefit from the measure due to individual site differences. 

These trial works replicate successful sand scraping works that have been undertaken elsewhere in NSW. The result of the trial will be considered when designing future solutions for the long term coastal management of the Old Bar area. At the conclusion of this trial, we will report back to our community on the effectiveness of the trial - there are no certainties that the trial will be extended or continued at this stage.

NSW Government Coastal Reforms

The NSW Government has implemented the Stage 1 Coastal Reforms, relating to sea level rise and coastal erosion and protection.
The major changes are as follows:

  • to amend the wording on Section 149 certificates to identify current and future coastal hazards (property certificates required from Council when selling/purchasing land)

  • to introduce the Draft Coastal Management Act 2017 which will replace the Coastal Protection Act 1979

  • the introduction of the NSW Coastal Management Manual to assist local Councils to implement the requirements of the new Act, including the preparation of Coastal Management Programs. 

Stage 2 of the Coastal Reforms were released by the NSW Minister for Planning, the Hon. Rob Stokes MP which included the public exhibition of the Draft Coastal Management State Environmental Planning Policy.

The Coastal Management Act 2017 will come into force when the Coastal Management SEPP is published on the NSW Legislation website.

Additional information on the Coastal Reforms can be found at:

Historical Coastal Management Plans & Study Documents

Great Lakes

Further investigations on Boomerang Beach and Blueys Beach using ground penetrating radar to clarify subsurface conditions: