The Sydney Coastal Councils Group Inc. (SCCG) was established in 1989 to promote co-ordination between Member Councils on environmental issues relating to the sustainable management of the urban coastal environment. The Group consists of 15 Councils adjacent to Sydney marine and estuarine environments and associated waterways, and represents over 1.4 million Sydneysiders.
MATTERS OF INTEREST
Throughout January, from Pittwater to Sutherland, you and your family can participate in fun and engaging activities. From sea kayaking, snorkelling and adventure boat tours to historical and geological walk ‘n’ talks, kids workshops and beach safety talks – there’s something to suit all ages and interests in Summerama 2015. We’re also running our annual Photo Competition and this year we have 4 family passes to Sydney Sea Life Aquarium and Sydney Wild Life Zoo up for grabs!
Now in its 12th year, Summerama has been successfully connecting Councils and their communities to enhance awareness of the value of Sydney’s coastline and the need to manage it sustainably. The Program is run SCCG Member Councils, with the support of our sponsors Landcare Australia and Coastcare. Visit our website or check out our Facebook page.
Award-winning projects on climate change in coastal areas
Recognising the effort of Member Councils, partner organisations and the Secretariat, we have received two awards:
Resilient Australia Awards 2014
NSW Winner (Local Government category)
National Winner (Local Government category)
Project: Coastal Vulnerability to Multiple Inundation Sources
These awards are an Australian Government initiative sponsored by the Commonwealth Attorney-General's Department, in conjunction with States and Territories. They recognise innovative practices and achievements across the nation that are making our communities safer, stronger, more resilient and better prepared to manage any emergency situation.
2014 NCCARF Climate Adaptation Champions Awards
LocalGovernment category, highly commended
Project: Prioritising Coastal Adaptation Development Options for Local Government
These awards, conferred by the National Climate Change Adaptation Research Facility, recognise those who are champions of practical and innovative ways to adapt to climate change.
We would like to extend thanks to our project partners and Member Councils for their contributions to these projects.
NSW POLICY AND LAW REFORM
Stage 2 Coastal Reforms
On 13 November 2014, the NSW Environment Minister, the Hon Rob Stokes MP, announced the commencement of Stage 2 of the NSW coastal reforms. The reforms have three key elements:
The Minister also announced the completion of Stage 1 of the reforms, including the finalisation of the Planning Circular on coastal hazard notifications on s.149 planning certificates. The Circular provides Councils with guidance on disclosing coastal hazard information on planning certificates. A draft Circular was released for comment in early 2014 and we availed ourselves of that opportunity (see the submissions section of our website). The draft Circular was then updated, considering comments received. Guidance includes that where a relevant policy or development control relating to land arises due to a coastal hazard, notations to be included in a planning certificate should clearly identify the type of hazard(s); and for each, classify whether that hazard is a current or future hazard. A copy of the Circular can be accessed here.
We will continue to work collaboratively with OEH throughout the reform process and we will keep Member Councils engaged in any developments. For more information visit the OEH website.
Changes to NSW Planning system
The NSW Parliament has passed the Environmental Planning and Assessment Amendment Act 2014. The new planning laws focus on improving enforcement processes and enabling the NSW ePlanning portal to be delivered. The Act introduces:
For more information on the Act, click here.
The NSW Government has also flagged further changes to speed up the State's planning system. They include clearer timelines for assessment processes, improving coordination between agencies, facilitating technical input to planning decisions and improved community engagement. Read more about these further changes here.
Biodiversity Legislation Review
On 18 December 2014 the Independent Biodiversity Legislation Review Panel released its Final Report on its review of biodiversity legislation in NSW. The Panel has made 43 recommendations, including a new ‘Biodiversity Conservation Act’ to replace existing legislation including the Native Vegetation Act 2003, the Threatened Species Conservation Act 1995 and parts of the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1974. The Review was commissioned by the NSW Government, with the aim of establishing simpler, streamlined and more effective legislation to facilitate the conservation of biological diversity, support sustainable development and reduce red-tape. The Panel’s Report is now being considered by the NSW Government.
For more information, click here.
New Study on Sydney Marine Region
On 15 December 2014, the NSW Government announced the commencement of a study to assess the greater Sydney marine region. The study will include a comprehensive assessment of the Hawkesbury Shelf bioregion, which extends from Newcastle to Wollongong and includes Sydney Harbour, Broken Bay, Botany Bay and Port Hacking. It will be overseen by the Marine Estate Management Authority (MEMA) with input from the Marine Estate Expert Knowledge Panel. According to the NSW Environment Minister, the study will inform decision making about the creation of an integrated marine protected area along the Sydney coastline by 2016. For more information, click here.
Marine Estate Management Act 2014 passess NSW Parliament
The Marine Estate Management Act 2014 has passed both houses of Parliament and is awaiting assent. The objects of the Bill are to provide for the management of the marine estate, consistent with the principles of ecologically sustainable development; facilitate economic, social, cultural, scientific and environmental opportunities; promote the coordination of functions by public authorities; and provide for a comprehensive, strategically managed system of marine parks and aquatic reserves.
A key element of the legislation is the development of a Marine Estate Management Strategy, which will establish ‘common principles and coordinated management while identifying priorities through a threat and risk assessment’. The Bill also provides for the establishment of two statutory advisory bodies, the Marine Estate Management Authority and the Marine Estate Expert Knowledge Panel, which have been operating on an administrative basis for the past year. The legislation will be jointly administered by the Minister for Primary Industries and the Minister for the Environment. For more information, click here.
Commonwealth Marine Reserves Review
The Commonwealth Government has set aside a suite of an Expert Scientific Panel will review the science supporting the current Commonwealth Marine Reserves recently developed management plans for Australia’s marine reserves. The plans were due to come into effect in July 2014, but instead will be replaced by a new set of plans following a Marine Reserves Review currently underway. The Government states it is delivering on its election commitment for a ‘More Competitive and Sustainable Fisheries Sector’.
Submissions are now being accepted on the review’s scope and terms of reference. Submissions close on 28 February 2015. An online survey will also be available shortly. More information on the review is available here. You can also subscribe to updates on the review’s progress here.
Emergency Risk Management: A Health Check for Local Government
This project is now complete. Project outcomes were distributed to Member Councils in December and are available on the project webpage.
We have secured funding (NSW National Disaster Mitigation Program) to undertake the second stage of this project - Implementing and Embedding an Emergency Management Health Check for Local Government. This stage will enhance usability of the Health Check tool, and support Councils’ emergency management planning across relevant functional areas by developing training and good practice guidance materials and resources.
Sydney’s Salty Communities – Turning the Tide on Blue+Green Carbon
Our new project manager, Fiona Shadbolt, began in late November to manage stage two of the program. A community of practice is being developed via the working group, to develop best practice projects to improve landscape resilience to climate change. The Coastal Biodiversity Literature, Data and Practice Review is now underway and is due for completion in March.
An Expert Reference Group is also being formed. This group will provide specialist technical input, guide research and evaluate projects under the devolved grants program. Group members will have expertise in Sydney’s coastal ecosystems, ecological restoration, urban biodiversity and organisational capacity-building.
The devolved grants process is being finalised. Funding will be available to fill research and policy gaps, provide key resources and undertake on-ground planting, weed control and rehabilitation of remnant coastal vegetation communities and key habitats across Sydney. These grants will be available in late January 2015. Head to the project web page for more information.
Sydney Harbour Coastal Zone Management Plan (CZMP) Scoping Study
The project consultant has prepared the second iteration of the Literature Review Report, which is under review by the Project Team.
Subsequent to the stakeholder workshop, stakeholder survey and literature review, the Scoping Study is well advanced. The consultant has synthesised the priority management issues pertaining to the Harbour. The report structure has been finalised and will draw upon local, national and international best practice and the relevant legislative and policy frameworks.
We expect the two reports to be reviewed by the project Advisory Committee early in the New Year and then launched publicly. For more information on the project, click here.
Environmental Research Grants
The Environmental Research Grants program is administered by the NSW Environmental Trust and aims to:
The next round of grants is expected to open for application in January 2015. Click here for details.
Private Land Conservation Grants NSW
The Private Land Conservation Grant Program is funded by the Foundation for National Parks & Wildlife and its partner organisations. It provides small grants to support landowners who have a conservation protection mechanism on their land, and for education and training in conservation. Applications open 2 February 2015 and close 20 March 2015. Click here for details.
Check out the SCCG Funding Guide for grant opportunities: www.sydneycoastalcouncils.com.au/funding_guide