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.
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 www.summerama.com.au or check out our Facebook page www.facebook.com/Summerama
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. The primary guidance is 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 hazard identified, 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 Bill 2014. The new planning laws focus on improving enforcement processes and enabling the NSW ePlanning portal to be delivered. The Bill introduces:
For more information on the Bill, 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 the changes 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.
Changes to rules on clearing in bushfire prone areas
Amidst a review into the controversial 10/50 Vegetation Clearing Code of Practice, on 27 November 2014 the NSW Rural Fire Service (RFS) announced changes to the clearing entitlement area established under the Code, effective immediately. The entitlement area will be reduced to 100 metres for Category 1 and 30 metres for Category 2 Bush Fire Prone Land. The previous area was 350 metres and 150 metres respectively.
The Code of Practice allows people who live in designated ‘10/50 vegetation clearing entitlement areas' to clear trees on their property within 10 metres of a home without seeking approval, and clear underlying vegetation (such as shrubs) within 50 metres of a home without seeking approval.
Since the introduction of the Code on 1 August 2014, there have been significant concerns raised by a number of councils and community groups, relating to impacts upon threatened species and ecological communities, inadequate consultation, lack of distinction between urban and bush land areas, and monitoring and compliance issues. These concerns were synthesised in our recent submission to the review of the Code. Submissions to the review closed on 14 November 2014 and the results are now being considered by the RFS in partnership with the NSW Department of Planning and Environment. For more information, visit the RFS website.
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.
The NSW Government is currently reviewing Biodiversity legislation in NSW. An independent panel has been appointed to consider the policy settings, programs and funding arrangements that support the management of biodiversity, threatened species and native vegetation in the State. The review aims to establish simpler, streamlined and more effective legislation that will:
An Issues Paper was released for consultation in August and September. An Interim Report was due to be delivered to the Minister in October, with the Final Report completed by 18 December 2014. For more information, click here.
More information on recent policy and law reforms is available in the latest edition of our quarterly newsletter, Coastal Currents.
Emergency Risk Management: A Health Check for Local Government
On 17 September 2014 at Town Hall, Sydney, the key project deliverables were launched. This event was headlined by Phil Koperberg, Chair of the State Emergency Management Committee.
The project, conducted over 18 months with a combined cash and in-kind budget of more than $300,000, enhances councils’ understanding and use of emergency management (EM) planning as a relationship and policy development tool to prepare for, and respond to, natural hazards.
This project explored current practice in NSW and reviewed best practice approaches from other states and internationally. The project manager, Dr Ian Armstrong, has now finalised all project deliverables, including a Literature Review, Review of Legislation, Project Report, Health Check tool and User Guide, a Fact Sheet and additional Resources for Local Government. These have been distributed to Member Councils.
We have recently sought funding via the NSW National Disaster Mitigation Program to undertake the second stage of this project - “Implementing and Embedding an Emergency Management Health Check for Local Government”. More information on the project is available here.
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. She is developing a community of practice with 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 will be complete in March.
An Expert Reference Group is also being formed. This group will provide specialist technical input, guide research, review prioritisation 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.
We are also developing the process for assessing project proposals for devolved grants. 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. The report now includes enhancements such as chapter summaries that can serve as standalone ‘factsheets’.
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 to be launched publicly shortly thereafter. For more information on the project, click here.
Check out the SCCG Funding Guide for grant opportunities: www.sydneycoastalcouncils.com.au/funding_guide