Advisory Committee – Building Capacity to Implement the ‘Risk-based Framework’

The Environment, Energy and Science (EES) Group is delivering a water quality initiative to improve the management of urban and rural diffuse source water pollution in NSW, as part of their commitment to implement the Marine Estate Management Strategy (MEMS) 2018-2028.

A key tool being used for this initiative is the ‘Risk-based framework for considering waterway health outcomes in strategic land use planning decisions’ (Risk-based Framework).The Risk-based Framework is a protocol that decision-makers, such as councils and environmental regulators, can use to help manage the impact of land-use activities on the health of waterways in NSW. Since the release of the framework, it has been piloted in several Councils in NSW, including Northern Beaches Council, and recognized in the Greater Sydney Commission’s district plans and the Marine Estate Management Authority’s 10-year Strategy.

One of the actions from MEMA’s Stage 2 Implementation Plan is to build capacity for stakeholders to implement the framework through delivery of guidance materials, industry forums and an online portal (Action 1.2). To achieve this an advisory committee has been set up and the SCCG’s Executive Officer has been invited to stand on this committee. The SCCG look forward to representing the interests of member councils to ensure that the outputs of the building capacity project are relevant to their activities.

Greater Sydney Harbour Litter Prevention Project

Sculpture showing the impact of marine litter on the environment were on display in iconic locations across the Sydney region as part of the Don’t be a Tosser! campaign (Source: NSW EPA).

Overview of the Regional Litter Prevention Strategy

The Sydney Coastal Councils Group and Parramatta River Catchment Group are proud to announce the launch of the Greater Sydney Harbour Regional Litter Prevention Strategy – For a Litter Free Greater Sydney.

Development of the strategy was supported with grant funding through the NSW Environment Protection Authority’s Community Litter Grants Program in 2021-22 and is the product of broad council and community engagement.

The focus of the strategy is to reduce the amount of litter entering Sydney Harbour, its catchments and waterways and ultimately the marine environment. A community perceptions survey conducted during 2021 found that 82% of respondents believed that litter is a problem in waterways. Litter can end up in the marine environment, even if it starts its journey way up in the catchment and is not captured on its way downstream.

Reducing the amount of litter entering our waterways requires a regional approach across councils and community and a variety of litter prevention actions covering education, rewards, infrastructure, enforcement and measurement. The NSW Government has set targets of 60% litter reduction by 2030 and 30% reduction in plastic litter by 2025 in NSW. The Regional Litter Prevention Strategy for Greater Sydney Harbour will contribute to these targets.

If you want to know more, you can read the strategy here.

Strategy implementation and targeted on-ground projects

Further funding has been granted under the EPA’s Community Litter Grants Program to implement the initial phases of the strategy in 2022-2023. This funding has allowed the appointment of a Regional Litter Prevention Coordinator who will work closely with all stakeholders to implement the strategy. Collaboration across councils, community, business, industry and State Government will be key to achieving the regional approach to litter prevention.

Many litter prevention projects are underway across Greater Sydney, with community groups doing regular clean-ups and councils and community organisations conducting education and awareness campaigns. Well located signage and bins are crucial to providing opportunities for the correct disposal of rubbish before it becomes litter. The strategy will support these many on-ground projects, celebrate achievements in litter prevention and provide examples of what can be done to reduce litter.

Some of the pilot case studies this year include:

  • Installing Don’t be a Tosser signage at selected litter hotspots to complement local council’s education. Planning is currently underway in partnership with Inner West, Cumberland and Hornsby Councils.
  • Delivering school education program focused on litter prevention in partnership with Take 3 for the Sea and Keep Australia Beautiful.

Community Litter Forum

The first online Community Litter Forum was held on 28 September 2022 which garnered wide community interests in litter prevention. Participants had a highly engaged discussion as they learned about what’s currently being done to tackle litter, including the Greater Sydney Harbour Litter Prevention Project, the Groundswell Project by Take 3 for the Sea, the diversity of community and business engagement initiatives carried out by Northern Beaches Council, as well as the amazing work of local eco-champions by the Friends of Toongabbie Creek. From bringing together tourism businesses, to creating a dialogue between passionate community groups and making waste artworks, the wide range of projects reminded everyone that we all play a critical role in litter prevention, no matter how small or big our actions may be. The forum inspired participants to start taking actions today, whether it is to advocate to others about litter prevention, to join a local litter prevention project, or to simply refuse single-use plastics. These are all crucial steps that will progressively enable us to achieve our vision for “A Litter-Free Greater Sydney”.

A very successful Litter Prevention Catchment Bus Tour was held on 23 February 2023. The bus tour took participants on an interactive journey to visualise the catchment wide impacts of litter and empowered them to take part in source reduction initiatives by showcasing a diversity of pilot examples of what can be done to prevent litter across the Greater Sydney Harbour catchment. Participants networked with like-minded individuals who joined from a diversity of GSH councils, organisations and community groups, as they learned about the collaborative regional approach to litter prevention. Participants visited 6 sites across the catchment and received 8 presentations representing a breadth of litter prevention initiatives.

Map of sites and photos from the Litter Prevention Catchment Bus Tour.


Litter prevention web portal

A key implementation outcome will be the development of a centralised litter prevention web portal, which will provide a catchment-wide, shared knowledge base for ongoing litter prevention. It will celebrate achievements in litter prevention, provide examples of what can be done to reduce litter and important links to litter prevention resources.

Watch this space as the web portal develops!

Get the Site Right

16 May, 2024 Blitz Day

Get the Site Right is a joint taskforce between the Parramatta River Catchment Group, Cooks River Alliance, Georges River Combined Councils Committee, Sydney Coastal Councils Group, Lake Macquarie Council, NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA), and Department of Planning, Housing and Infrastructure (DPHI), and more than 20 Sydney councils. We are working together to target developers and enforce best practice on commercial and residential building sites, as well as major infrastructure projects, to prevent erosion from building sites and protect our waterways and surrounding environments.

The next Get the Site Right Blitz Day will be held on 16 May, 2024 with participating councils. Watch the site for updates on progress.

Why should you care about erosion and sediment control on building sites?

The suburbs around Sydney’s waterways are booming. Our growing population and need for more housing, schools, roads and other amenities has seen a rise in new residential and commercial developments and construction, as well as increased public expectation for a quality, local waterway which we can safely use for leisure activities.

Did you know that up to four truckloads of soil from a building site can be washed away in a single storm if not properly contained? If sediment such as soil, sand, dirt and mud are not properly managed on building sites they can directly pollute our river and cause severe environmental problems, making it less safe for people to use.

How does sediment spills affect our environment and waterways?

  • Directly pollutes our creeks, river and harbours by filling them with dirt, soil, sand and mud. This leads to poorer water quality, affecting swimming or leisure activities in and around our waterways.
  • Destroys aquatic habitats and smothers native plants and animals that live our waterways.
  • Blocks stormwater drains leading to flooding and overflows.
  • Erodes creek and river banks.
  • Causes health and safety risks such as slippery roads and tripping hazards

Follow the rules

There are rules that developers need to follow to contain and manage sediment on their work site in a responsible manner. It is against the law to breach these rules. Local councils and the NSW Environment Protection Authority have the power to issue penalties with fines for individuals from $15,000 for the first offence and $22,500 for a second offence, and for companies $30,000 for the first offence and $45,000 for a second offence if water pollution occurs under the Protection of the Environment Operations Act 1997.

Home builders and renovators

If you are building or renovating a home, submission of an Erosion and Sediment Control Plan is required before works begin. Ensure your builders are adhering to the rules. For more information, click here or contact your local council or the NSW Environment Protection Authority for further consultation.

Developers and builders

If you are a developer or managing a building site, download a quick summary of the facts or consult the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage’s ‘Blue Book’ for detailed rules and guidelines.


Sediment runoff can be reduced and prevented to give us cleaner, safer, and more scenic creeks, rivers and other waterways. This short webinar, which was prepared for Council staff participating in the campaign, explains the environmental impacts of sediment runoff on our waterways, and why we must ensure building and construction sites have effective erosion and sediment controls in place.


Report all pollution incidents to the NSW Environment Line on 131 555 or contact your local council.

‘Get the Site Right’ awareness campaign video:

Get the Site Right 2024 Media Releases

Get the Site Right Blitz Campaign Results

Details of past Get the Site Right campaigns can be found in the media releases below:

For any inquiries, please contact SCCG’s Office Manager, Thea Thompson, at

Greater Sydney Harbour Coastal Management Program

Watch our education video to find out more about the Greater Sydney Harbour Coastal Management Program (GSHCMP) and how it can help improve catchment and waterway health for our iconic Harbour.


Project Summary and Progress 

Twenty councils within the Greater Sydney Harbour catchment are collaborating with state agencies to develop a whole-of-system Coastal Management Program for Greater Sydney Harbour. The SCCG is project managing the delivery of this CMP.

Greater Sydney Harbour Coastal Management Program Stage 1 Scoping Study identified urban stormwater discharge and coastal inundation with sea level rise as high priority threats. The Sydney Harbour Water Quality Improvement Plan has also been completed and provides a strong base for the development of the GSHCMP.

To assess threats posed by stormwater and coastal inundation, a Stage 2 investigation was recently completed to determine risks across all catchments feeding the Harbour and steps needed to mitigate those risks. The aim is to provide for coordinated action by councils, in partnership with state agencies and the community, to facilitate integrated waterway health management for the entire Greater Sydney Harbour system.

The Stage 2 investigation comprised of the delivery of the following inter-related studies and reports:

  • Study 1 investigated the effectiveness of stormwater management practice and climate change planning across 20 councils in the Greater Sydney Harbour
  • Study 2 identified council needs and management options for addressing stormwater discharge, waterway health and coastal inundation
  • Study 3 reviewed options for establishing a governance and sustainable funding structure that would ensure the long-term sustainable health of the catchment
  • Delivery of a series of workshops with technical experts and councils on the topic of water quality, climate change and catchment initiatives. A copy of the technical report is available on request.

The next stage, Stage 3, involves the development and evaluation of potential management options that can address those issues identified in Stage 2 in an integrated and strategic manner.

This project is supported by the NSW Government’s Coastal and Estuary Grant Program – Planning Stream.

Picture of Prof. Bruce Thom (Chair) actively engaging with stakeholders and experts in Sydney (Photo credit: Sydney Water).


Purpose of a Coastal Management Program  

Under the Coastal Management Act 2016 (CM Act) councils may prepare Coastal Management Programs (CMPs) which set out the long-term strategy for the coordinated management of the coast, with a focus on achieving the objects and objectives of the CM Act.

CMPs identify coastal management issues in the area, the actions required to address these issues, and how and when those actions will be implemented. They detail costs and proposed cost-sharing arrangements and other viable funding mechanisms.

The CM Act (and other relevant legislation) establishes specific roles and responsibilities for relevant Ministers, the NSW Coastal Council, public authorities and local councils, as well as providing opportunities for communities to participate when preparing and implementing a CMP.

You can find out more detailed information about Catchment Management Programs here.


The importance of the Greater Sydney Harbour 

Greater Sydney Harbour is one of the world’s greatest harbours and as such is a state, national and global asset. It stretches from its upper tidal limits on the Parramatta River downstream to the ocean entrance between North and South Head. Its catchments are the home of 3.07 million people (projected to go to 4.35 million by 2041) and the region is responsible for around 25% of the nation’s GDP[1].

Greater Sydney Harbour is a magnet for tourists the world over and a source of great ecological diversity. Its waters are threatened by possible adverse impacts of population growth and development and potential impacts of climate change including sea-level rise and high magnitude catchment runoff.

Key features of the Greater Sydney Harbour catchment

At the centre of Australia’s largest city, the harbour is subject to intense human activity which presents coastal managers with many challenges. Understandably, developing and delivering a whole-of-catchment CMP will be a complex task with the project team currently working with 33 stakeholders to plan and deliver the GSHCMP. Buy-in and participation by all levels of government and the community is imperative to achieving a strategic and coordinated management framework for the Harbour.

The Sydney Coastal Councils Group is the project manager for the GSHCMP. It will be whole-of-catchment and encompass Sydney Harbour tidal waterways and its catchment lands.


Conceptual Model of Wet and Dry Weather Conditions 


To download, click here.

These conceptual models show the impacts of stormwater discharge into Greater Sydney Harbour under both wet and dry weather conditions. The models were developed by Sydney Water in partnership with the SCCG, PRCG and DPE project team.


The importance of working together

A single, whole-of-system Coastal Management Program is needed to facilitate coordinated and integrated management of Australia’s most iconic and important waterway.

Local councils have a central role in managing the coast. The Sydney Coastal Councils Group promotes collaboration between member councils on environmental issues relating to the urban coastal and estuarine environment. We represent nearly 1.3 million Sydneysiders with six councils adjacent to Sydney marine and estuarine environments and associated waterways.

There are a host of benefits to working together in a holistic and integrated way as part of the Sydney Coastal Councils Group – improved environmental outcomes, improved capacity to address strategic and harbour-wide issues and interest, better communication, advocacy and promotion and efficiency savings to name a few.

Please contact SCCG if you’d like to join the many benefits of being a member council.


GSH CMP Communiques

See the latest communiques circulated to partners


Sydney Harbour, Courtesy of Department of Planning and Environment

Adapting Priority Coastal Recreational Infrastructure for Climate Change

The SCCG was successful in receiving a Building Resilience for Climate Change Grant in 2017 to fund the ‘Adapting Priority Coastal Recreational Infrastructure for Climate Change’ Project.

Coastal public recreational infrastructure can be highly vulnerable to the impacts of contemporary coastal hazards that will be exacerbated by climate change. These assets can receive large amounts of funding every year for reactive remediation and maintenance following damage. The outputs of this project will assist Councils in managing these recreational assets with respect to rising sea levels and other impacts of climate change.

The NSW Governments’ Manly Hydraulics Laboratory (MHL) and Engineers Australia through its National Committee on Coastal and Ocean Engineering (NCCOE) were engaged by SCCG to develop a decision framework for recreational coastal infrastructure assets which:
• implements NCCOE’s guidelines for coastal infrastructure asset management and planning;
• focuses on climate change vulnerability; and
• can be used as part of Council’s IP&R (Integrated Planning and Reporting) framework to help define maintenance/renewal costs and to establish triggers based on discounted future costs under a preselected adaptation strategy.

Based on the findings of a survey of NSW coastal councils, MHL developed an assessment methodology incorporating multi-criteria valuation assessment (MCA) to:
• design an assessment tool around targeting asset vulnerability to coastal hazards;
• establish an holistic approach to asset assessment; and
• support capital expenditure applications and an ability to accommodate varying levels of data availability.

Outputs from the tool can assist Councils to:
• determine strengths and weaknesses of a coastal recreational asset based on the dimensions of the MCA;
• indicate options and indicative costs for various adaptation strategies;
• set trigger levels for future adaptation work; and
• rank assets against others entered by the user to aid in prioritisation of resources.

To download the project Factsheet click on the image below.











The tool was tested on over ten recreational infrastructure assets within the local government areas of three NSW coastal councils. Three case studies have been developed using recreational assets including an urban rock pool, and urban coastal park and a rural estuarine jetty, to highlight the applicability of the tool.

Read the Case Studies Report for more information on the three case studies. To download click on the image below.











This project was presented at the NSW Coastal Conference 7-9th November 2018.

The Assessment Tool is accessible for all NSW councils.  To download the excel based tool click here.





Phytopthora Working Group


Phytophthora cinnamomi is a soil-borne water mould that produces an infection which causes a condition in plants called “root rot” or “dieback”. The plant pathogen is one of the world’s most invasive species and is present in over 70 countries from around the world.

Aim and Objectives

The SCCG was a member of the Sydney Harbour Federation Trust’s Phytophthora Working Group. The working group was formed in response to a number of localised Phytophthora outbreaks around the Sydney Harbour region and consisted of Local, State and Commonwealth Government land managers in the Sydney Harbour region.

Outcomes / Outputs

Studies were undertaken to determine where Phytophthora was occurring and what actions could be taken to control it. Following this a management strategy was developed and implemented that included the following actions:

  • An education campaign to inform people how they could prevent the spread of the pathogen.
  • Guidelines for the design and construction of walking tracks, including boot cleaning stations at entry and exit points.
  • Implementation of best practice procedures for people undertaking bush regeneration activities.
  • Mapping and monitoring infected and uninfected areas and dieback.
  • New plantings with Phytophthora resistant species in infected areas.


Regional Implementation Strategy for Water Quality / Environmental Monitoring

A web-based toolkit and guide to water quality monitoring developed by SCCG.

Protecting Sydney’s Wetlands


The Model Development Control Plan (DCP) – Protecting Sydney’s Wetlands was prepared by the SCCG in conjunction with the Protecting Wetlands Steering Committee. The Model DCP and the supporting resource folder provide Local Government and other development consent authorities with a generic model planning mechanism for consistent and coordinated protection and management of coastal wetlands.

The Model Development Control Plan (DCP) – Protecting Sydney’s Wetlands was prepared by the SCCG in conjunction with the Protecting Wetlands Steering Committee. The Model DCP and the supporting resource folder provide Local Government and other development consent authorities with a generic model planning mechanism for consistent and coordinated protection and management of coastal wetlands.


The purpose of the Model DCP and the supporting management reference Assessment process material is to provide a template for consent authorities to develop their own consistent planning mechanisms to protect wetland systems. The purpose is to also provide clear information and advice to Council officer and developers. The generic instrument can be either simply adopted or incorporated into existing relevant planning instruments and easily amended where necessary to suit location conditions. The Model DCP was prepared as a whole of government initiative involving all spheres of government and research organisations.


  • To protect Sydney’s wetlands from inappropriate development by preventing and/or regulating developments that have the potential to fragment, pollute, disturb or diminish the values of wetlands.
  • To protect, restore and maintain ecological processes, natural systems and biodiversity within wetlands.
  • To encourage best practice land use planning and environmental design measures that enhance the sustainability of wetlands functions and values.
  • To provide clear information and advice to potential developers, consent authorities, landowners and residents on the requirements for information for development proposals affected by this DCP.
  • To improve the quality of wetland planning, management and education by encouraging developments (where appropriate) related to wetland education and identifying linkages between developments, environmental impacts and outcomes through education.
  • To improve compliance with other legislation, plans and policies related to wetland protection and management.


Model DCP: Protecting Sydney’s Wetlands

Resource Folder: Protecting Wetlands Resource Package

Appendices: Protecting Sydney Wetlands

Preventing Cigarette Butt Littering: A Resource Package for Local Government


The SCCG has prepared a resource package to assist Councils and other interested stakeholders to encourage the correct disposal of cigarette butts.

Aim and Objectives

The Preventing Cigarette Butt Litter in the Sydney Coastal Region project purpose was to provide Member Councils, other authorities and the community with a range of best practice tools and information that they can implement to address cigarette butt littering in their local area.

Outcomes / Outputs

The principle outcome of the project is an innovative resource package that provides Councils and in turn the community with information on the extent and problems of cigarette butt littering, legislation, enforcement ideas, bins and devices available and a range of example education initiatives. Secondary outcomes have been greater community awareness of the effects of cigarette butt littering and a reduction in cigarette butt litter.

Contents of the Resource Package:

  • Introduction (Concept and how to use the package)
  • Facts and Figures (Extent of littering and effect of the pollution).Bins and Devices (Example bins and devices to assist correct disposal).
  • Legislation (Relevant to littering and smoking area restrictions).
  • Enforcement (Licensing, PINs, MOUs, property leases, standard conditions for development).
  • Education (Education projects, activities, media releases, posters, stickers).
  • Relevant Contacts and Internet Site Details.

For a hard copy of the Resource Package or for more information please contact SCCG.

Coastal Risk Management in Member Councils


Risk management is a tool used to make decisions about the probability of an event and its resultant consequences. It aims to provide a structured way of identifying and analyzing potential risks, and devising and implementing appropriate responses while providing an opportunity to enhance current practice and support. It is defined by Australian Standard 4360 (2004) as “the culture, processes and structures that are directed towards realising potential opportunities whilst managing adverse effects”. It involves a multifaceted process that is best carried out in a multidisciplinary team ensuring a systematic application to the tasks of identifying, analysing, assessing, treating and monitoring all forms of risk.

Management of coastal and estuarine risk is subjective as there are different reasons and values that influence the cost benefit ratio of protecting the coastal zone such as:

  • the loss of property,
  • the value of a beach,
  • the cost of protective works whether it be construction or renourishment, or
  • the value of the coastal zone by user groups e.g. surfers, land owner and tourism industry.

Risk management for the SCCG Member Councils is of prime importance as the management of risks has a wide distribution. Focus is required for the integration of not only natural processes such as coastal erosion, cliff stability and flooding but now must also incorporate issues such as public safety.

Aim and Objectives

The purpose of consultation process and the resultant report is to provide a status and recommendations report on risk management practice for Councils in Sydney coastal areas including beaches, estuaries, lakes and nearshore marine waters (suggested 3 nautical miles offshore).

The objectives of identifying risk management in all coastal areas are to establish:

  • what is risk management for each relevant coastal, estuary and/or waterway zone
  • what are the common risks faced by the Member Councils
  • what are the common practices of risk management
  • what are the gaps in coastal risk management practice

The purpose of the report is to provide Councils with:

  • details of member council feedback for the issue of Coastal Risk Management facing Sydney’s coastal Councils
  • collate a status and recommendations report as part of the process to identify the issues facing SCCG Councils by recognising:
  • common coastal risk issues and management activities identified for Member Councils
  • recommendations for managing risk in the coastal zone
Outcomes / Outputs

The report gives the necessary information to provide an overview of the current status and activities of coastal risk management in Member Councils including recommendations for future priorities. It also provides a unique a preliminary benchmark of the current practice in coastal risk management for SCCG Member Councils.

For a hard copy of the Report, or for more information please contact the SCCG.

Status and Recommendations Report – Risk Management for Sydney Coastal Councils, 2005