Sydney Regional Coastal Management Strategic / Implementation Program


The SRCMS provides an action-orientated management framework that is intended to guide coastal management and planning in the Sydney coastal region into the next century. The underlying focus of the strategy is the pursuit towards and achievement of ecologically sustainable development (ESD) of Sydney’s coastal zone.

The SRCMS recognises the fact that Sydney’s coastal zone is: continuously under intensive pressures from human activity; subject to a myriad of competing interests for its resources; and covered by numerous planning and management documents. It is managed by an assortment of State, Local and Commonwealth government authorities, industry, the community and a variety of non-government organisations. A single management strategy based on ESD provides an opportunity for all management and planning stakeholders to reconcile their competing interests and ensure an equitable, integrated and sustainable management approach. This will be achieved through the implementation of sustainable coastal planning and management practices that will ultimately protect and conserve terrestrial and marine ecosystems.

Aim and Objectives

The aim of the SRCMS is to protect and conserve terrestrial and marine ecosystems in the study area, and to manage the social and economic conditions to achieve this, through the implementation of identified, sustainable coastal planning and management practices.

Outcomes / Outputs

The associated Strategic Actions Program is intended to guide and priorities the management actions of the participating stakeholders. The implementation of the Strategic Actions Program is guided by the coastal management objectives and principles, with the underlying focus being the achievement of ecologically sustainable development.

The Strategic Actions Program focuses on the key themes that were identified throughout the community consultation and participation phases of the SRCMS’s development. These are:


Each coastal management themes has an outcome statement to guide implementation and to focus on the overall desired management outcome for each of the six themes. A list of key regional issues is also provided for each coastal management theme. These have been identified by the regional community and all stakeholders involved in the preparation of the strategy.

The six management themes are further divided into key areas and issues that require a management response; these have been provided with a measurable outcome statement. Each strategic action includes the name of the organisation(s) that is primarily responsible for its implementation. The organisation(s) in bold is the core organisation responsible for coordinating other primary and supporting organisations and reporting annually on implementation. Those organisations listed as supporting organisations are to be consulted and involved in the implementation. Organisations with a primary responsibility are to work with supporting organisations to ensure a cooperative and focused approach to the implementation of the strategy. The priority components of the program have been divided into three levels: essential, highly desirable and desirable. Strategic actions determined to be essential will be addressed and acted on within the first 12 months of implementation. Highly desirable within the first two years and desirable within the first five years of implementation.

An electronic copy of the Sydney Regional Coastal management Strategy can be accessed here.

Sydney Regional Coastal Management Strategy, 1998

Landslide Risk Management: Geotechnical Investigations


In recognition of the challenge between development pressures and landslide hazard, in the year 2000 the Australian Geomechanics Society (AGS) published a benchmark technical paper “Landslide Risk Management Concepts and Guidelines” (AGS, 2000) – which significantly updated an earlier 1985 guideline. It was recommended in the report of the Coroner’s Inquiry into the 1997 Thredbo landslide that AGS (2000) be taken into account – through directions in the Building Code of Australia and local codes dealing with planning, development and building approval procedures – when assessing and planning urban communities in hillside environments.

Whilst AGS (2000) presented concepts and guidelines to assist practitioners, there remained a need to provide supplemental information to further assist practitioners, to assist regulators and to provide advice to the broader Australian population. This was recognised by the SCCG who in turn submitted a successful grant application under the NSW and Commonwealth Governments’ National Disaster Mitigation Program.

Outcomes / Outputs

The project(s) are intimately related to management of risk associated with landslides in all parts of Australia, covering sloping terrain generally and with applicability to the coastal and near-coastal environment. The project involved the development of two guidelines, two commentaries and a suite of GeoGuides. These provide assistance variably to regulators, practitioners and owners and occupiers of property and land potentially subject to landslide hazards.

  1. The Landslide Zoning Guideline covers landslide susceptibility, hazard and risk zoning for land use planning. It provides guidance to government regulators (officers of local government and state government instrumentalities) and geotechnical practitioners in the methods of Landslide Hazard Zoning. Such characterisation provides input to the land use planning process in areas of landslide hazard. This guideline is supported an associated commentary document.
  2. The Slope Management Guideline – known as the Australian GeoGuides for Slope Management and Maintenance – provides owners and occupiers, and therefore the public in the broader sense, with guidance on management and maintenance of properties subject to landslide hazard. These two guidelines are important contributions to the management of landslide hazard at both ends of the process – initial identification of landslide hazard in the planning process, and management of properties prone to landslide hazard by the end-user.
  3. The guidelines benefit the general community (Australian GeoGuides) and Local Government regulators (Landslide Zoning) through achieving safer, more sustainable communities in relation to their exposure to landslide risk, and reduce risk to the community through improved planning and slope management practices. These guidelines link with the risk management practices presented in AGS (2000) and the recently published Building Code of Australia (BCA) Guideline, and will provide long-term natural disaster mitigation benefits to housing and infrastructure.

The LRM Practice Note provides guidance to practitioners in the performance of project specific landslide risk assessment and management, and also to government officers in interpretation of the reports they receive. The Practice Note is suited to be an external reference document for legislative requirements. The Practice Note supersedes the recognised industry “standard” on LRM in Australia – AGS (2000).

The guidance provided by the Practice Note is of a technical nature and is mainly for the geotechnical practitioner for the production of landslide risk assessment and management for development in areas prone to landslide hazard. This includes guidance on appropriate methods and techniques, and tolerable levels of risk. Currently, an acceptable level of risk to life for the individual most-at-risk is reasonably well identified, though perhaps conservatively so. As a result of a number of issues, there has been no similar guidance for risk to property, which is now provided in the Practice Note.

Project Awards

Warren Medal – Civil Collage

In early 2008 the SCCG and Australian Geomechanics Society Landslide Risk Management Project was awarded the prestigious Warren Medal the premier award of the Civil College.

Australian Safer Communities Awards 2008

“AGS (2007)” was submitted for judging in the Australian Safer Communities Awards 2008 in the category of “Projects of National Significance”. The project received a ‘High Commendation’. Award winners are recognised “throughout the emergency management sector for their outstanding achievement, innovation and professional standing”.


Guideline for Landslide Susceptibility, Hazard and Risk Zoning for Land Use Management

Commentary on Guideline for Landslide Susceptibility, Hazard and Risk Zoning for Land Use Management

Landslide Practice Note – Practice Note Guidelines for Landslide Risk

Journal of Emergency Management in Australia, Landslide Risk Management for Australia.

Australian GeoGuides for Slope Management and Maintenance

Australian GeoGuide on Landslides

Australian GeoGuide on Soil Slopes

Australian GeoGuide on Rock Slopes

Australian GeoGuide on Water and Drainage

Australian GeoGuide on Retaining Walls

Australian GeoGuide on Landslide Risk

Australian GeoGuide on Hillside Construction

Australian GeoGuide on Effluent and Surface Water Disposal

Australian GeoGuide on Coastal Landslides

Australian GeoGuide on Record Keepings

Groundwater Management Handbook


The Groundwater Management Handbook – A Guide for Local Government was developed with the assistance of the Groundwater Management Working Group and officially launched at the SCCG Annual General Meeting on 16 September 2006.

Aim and Objectives

The Handbook provides stakeholders with comprehensive technical, management and education information on the sustainable management of groundwater resources from the one source. The specific objectives of the Handbook are:

  • To provide background information on groundwater occurrence and behaviour.
  • To describe groundwater environments within the SCCG area.
  • To provide an assessment of current legislation in relation to groundwater management.
  • To provide technical advice on the management of groundwater.
  • To identify the information available from the groundwater database maintained by the NSW Department of Natural Resources.
  • To outline the mapping capabilities available through the Community Access to Natural Resources Information (CANRI) program.

Outcomes / Outputs

The key outcome of the Handbook will be to provide Councils with greater confidence and capacity in the management and assessment of groundwater resources in relation to development assessment and control, protection of groundwater dependant ecosystems and where appropriate utilisation of groundwater resources.

The handbook can be used to assist a number of activities. These include assessing the impacts of development applications on groundwater flow regimes, planning major infrastructure works to be undertaken by councils, examining the impacts of previous land uses on groundwater quality and communicating to external stakeholders the most appropriate techniques for sustainable groundwater management.

Groundwater Management Handbook – A Guide for Local Government

Groundwater Education Workshop Series and Materials


With the assistance of funding from the NSW Environmental Trust the SCCG engaged the UNSW Water Research Laboratory to deliver a series of free workshops, information and training on sustainable groundwater management targeting councils and industry in 2008.

Aim and Objectives

The aim of the Groundwater Education Workshop Series was to deliver a series of free workshops, information and training on sustainable groundwater management targeting councils and industry. The education materials (available below) provided at the workshop integrated information on the regulatory aspects of groundwater management with increased awareness of the dynamic nature of groundwater.

Outcomes / Outputs

The workshops covered the following groundwater related topics:

  • Groundwater Occurrence
  • Legislation, Policy and other instruments
  • Accessing Groundwater for Water Supply
  • Construction and Development
  • Groundwater Quality and Contamination
  • Groundwater Dependant Ecosystems
SCCG Groundwater Management Fact Sheets

Fact Sheet 1: Groundwater and the Sydney Coastal Region

Fact Sheet 2: Licensing Groundwater Spearpoints and Bores

Fact Sheet 3: Groundwater Dependent Ecosystems

Fact Sheet 4: Groundwater Mapping

Fact Sheet 5: Development and Construction

Groundwater Workshop Materials

Coastal Councils Planning for Climate Change


In 2007/2008 the SCCG engaged the NSW Environmental Defenders Office to undertake an assessment of Australian and NSW legislation and government policy provisions in relation to climate change relevant to regional and metropolitan NSW coastal councils.

Aim and Objectives

The aims of the project were to:

  1. To identify where and within what legal and implementation context the terms climate change, greenhouse and sea level rise occurred within all legislation, planning instruments and policy relevant to coastal councils in NSW; and
  2. Provide a discussion of responsibilities of local government to implement the provisions identified.
Outcomes / Outputs

The project produced a report titled Coastal Councils Planning for Climate Change. This report provided an assessment of Australian and NSW legislation and government policy provisions in relation to climate change relevant to regional and metropolitan NSW coastal councils. Findings and recommendations for the report focussed on the statutory obligations and potential common law liability of coastal councils in NSW.

The Coastal Councils and Planning for Climate Change Report can be downloaded here.

A Method for Assessing the Vulnerability of Buildings to Catastrophic (Tsunami) Marine Flooding


Sydney’s low-lying coastal infrastructure is vulnerable to the impact of catastrophic marine floods associated with tsunami and storm surges. The future impacts of such floods will be worse than in the past because of climate related sea level rise and increased exposure at the coast. Coastal planners and risk managers need innovative tools to undertake assessment of the vulnerability of buildings and infrastructure and likely probable maximum loss located within their areas of responsibility. Such assessments will enable risk mitigation measures to be developed and challenges of long-term sustainability to be addressed. In 2008, the SCCG together with the Australian Tsunami Research Centre at the University of New South Wales commenced a collaborative research project titled “A method for assessing the vulnerability of buildings to catastrophic (tsunami) marine flooding”.

Aim and Objectives

The aim of this project was to apply a newly developed GIS vulnerability assessment tool to selected coastal suburbs of Sydney, evaluate and quantify the vulnerability of buildings at those locations to a hypothetical tsunami (or storm surge) flood based on the latest scientific understanding.

Outcomes / Outputs

The results are presented via a series of thematic vulnerability maps, in which different types of buildings are displayed using a colour code corresponding to the RVI score.

The overall project outcomes are delivered in three forms:

  1. 1:5000 scale maps of the RVI scores of all buildings within the two study areas;
  2. A report including a detailed description of the method, the results and a series of potential recommendations for Government(s) to increase their capability to deal with long-term risk mitigation
  3. A step by step ArcGIS user’s manual for applying this model to other coastal areas including a specific tool to be installed onto the GIS platform.

The project outputs, finalised in August 2009, include the Final Report, User Manual and Project Fact Sheet click on the links below.

Final Report

User Manual


In November 2011, the SCCG partnered once again with the UNSW Pacific Tsunami Research Centre and Natural Hazards Research Laboratory (UNSW APTRC) to build upon this project and assess coastal vulnerability to multiple inundation sources. This 2-year project will develop a multi-hazard tool to assess the vulnerability of buildings and critical infrastructure to extreme marine inundatations caused both by tsunamis and storm surges.


Systems Approach to Regional Climate Change Adaptation Strategies in Metropolises


The Systems Approach to Regional Climate Change Adaptation Strategies in Metropolises project developed and tested an integrated, systems approach to assisting the 15 SCCG Member Councils in assessing their vulnerability to climate change and the barriers and opportunities associated with adaptation at the Local Government scale. The project also seeked to demonstrate the value of coordinated regional-scale responses to climate vulnerability through Local Government cooperation. The SCCG partnered with CSIRO’s Climate Adaptation Flagship and working in collaboration with the University of the Sunshine Coast, as part of the Australian Government Department of Climate Change (DCC) National Climate Change Adaptation Program.

Aim and Objectives

The aim of the project is to develop and trial a method for a systems approach to regional climate change adaptation strategies in large urban areas through:

  • Developing and testing an integrated (systems) method to generate information about the likely impacts of climate change and feasible adaptation strategies in the Sydney region.
  • Deepening the understanding of the likely impacts of climate change and resulting adaptation options in the Sydney region through integration of existing models, generation of new knowledge where there are significant gaps, scenario analysis, an analysis of adaptive capacity, and assessment of demonstration projects.
  • Assessing the transferability of the integrated (systems) method to other large urban areas.
  • Improve the capacity of councils to respond and adapt to climate change.
Outcomes / Outputs

The project will benefit SCCG Member Councils in the Sydney region and other Councils in large urban areas by:

  • Generating information about the likely impacts of climate change and feasible adaptation strategies in the Sydney region;
  • Deepening the understanding of the likely impacts of climate change through the identification of the barriers and opportunities to adapting to the impacts of climate change;
  • Building the capacity of stakeholders by making recommendations and identifying key interventions for future management decisions;
  • Working with stakeholders to build adaptation strategies into institutional structures and processes.


Adaptation Actions for Local Government


This research undertaken by Edward Boydell (from the Fenner School of Environment and Society, Australian National University) examines adaptation to climate change in the context of local government practice. Increasing attention is being paid towards the practical dimensions of implementing adaptation.

The honours research thesis, investigated the emergence of adaptation to climate change in local government practice. Three SCCG Member Councils participated in the qualitative research project, which captured a snapshot of their adaptation-related activities from late 2009 to early 2010. These councils had previously been involved in the “Systems Approach to Regional Climate Change Adaptation in Metropolises” (hereafter “Systems Approach”). This research project was a collaboration of the SCCG, CSIRO and the University of the Sunshine Coast.

The research builds upon this work, particularly the proposed “adaptation actions for local government”, and aimed to focus on what can be learnt from subsequent, emerging practical examples of adaptation in local government. Guided by the broad research question ‘How is adaptation to climate change emerging in practice?’ the following specific research questions where addressed:

(Q1) What practical adaptation activities are Councils and individual officers engaged with?

(Q2) How is the development and implementation of these activities connected to the broader context of local government?

(Q3) How do social processes come together with this context to shape adaptation learning and practice?

(Q4) What can the resulting trajectories of practice reveal about overcoming barriers to adaptation?


‘The findings suggest that although local governments have only recently begun to attend to climate change impacts and adaptation, it is the interest and motivation of individual actors that has driven the agenda forward. I identified nine key responses to climate change, which were influenced by policy and external research, internal factors within councils, and interaction with the community. Although a number of these activities were ad hoc, they were starting to coalesce into a strategic direction of adaptation. I demonstrate that learning occurs at variety of scales, with actors drawing upon their practical experience, local knowledge, local and extended networks and known information resources. The analysis highlighted that adaptation practice is facilitated by a level of personal and organisational ownership of activities, with connection to broader strategic directions and the identity of the organisation. It also proposes trajectories of practice and avenues for transcending barriers to adaptation.

Connecting climate change adaptation, learning, and practice places the actions of local government staff at the centre of this inquiry. It acknowledges that their experience provides important and legitimate insight into the organisational context that shapes this action. The research develops and demonstrates a novel and insightful approach to understanding the practice of adaptation, through the situated learning perspective. Greater understanding of adaptation practice and trajectories of change are vital for enabling, supporting and enhancing action to address climate change.

Adaptation to climate change in practice. Learning from a local government case study.

Antifouling Technologies for Coastal Pools and Platforms


The SCCG Member Councils face a continual challenge from settlement and growth of marine organisms (“fouling”) on coastal rock pools and platforms. The challenge arises from public health and safety concerns (and associated Council liability) for bathers who can slip on fouled surfaces. Approaches used to date primarily include mechanical cleaning and various biocides, particularly chlorine based bleaches. The use of the latter is constrained by significant concerns over non-target effects as the chlorine washes from platforms/pools into the marine environment more generally.

Mechanical cleaning has also not proved satisfactory because even very frequent cleaning is not sufficient to prevent fouling. This is not particularly surprising, given that microfouling – bacteria, diatoms, other microalgae – can form a slippery layer of slime with a day or two. These and other approaches to the problem are detailed in the SCCG’s 1996 discussion paper, “Finding suitable options for cleaning Sydney’s estuarine tidal baths & ocean rock pools for use by local governments”.

An alternative approach is to use antifouling coatings that can be applied to pool or platform surfaces. Most standard ship antifouling coatings are inappropriate, as they rely on toxic actives (typically heavy metals or organic biocides) for their activity, or on “non-stick” (foul release) properties, which would only exacerbate the problem of slippery surfaces.

In 2008, the SCCG contracted Centre for Marine Bio-Innovation Algae samples(University of New South Wales) to undertake the above mentioned project. This project was made possible with funding contributions from the NSW Department of Environment, Climate Change and Water, Randwick and Sutherland Councils together with the SCCG.

Outcomes / Outputs

The research project identified and trialed alternative approaches to maintaining safe coastal pools and platforms applying antifouling coatings to affected areas to reduce or eliminate the needs for continual mechanical cleaning. Test sites where selected in partner Council areas based on a range of slip hazards and environments found along the coastline Coatings from three commercial suppliers and UNSW were assessed over three separate periods (Mar-June 2009, August-Sept 2009 and Dec 2009-Feb 2010).

Results found that two coatings in combination with modified cleaning practices are recommended for commercial scale trials on pedestrian access points anticipating subsequent take up of these technologies. When these coatings are combined with the recommended modified cleaning practices the following improvements are expected:
For submerged steps and ramps:

For submerged steps and ramps:

  • Algae prevented from growing for at least 2 – 4 weeks compared to the current 2-7 days after cleaning.
  • Algae can be easily cleaned from the SW-Mat by hand without emptying pool water compared to the current requirement to emptying the pool and cleaning with a truck-mounted high pressure jet blaster.
  • The risk of slipping is significantly reduced.

For exposed platforms and walkways (such as Clovelly promenade):

  • Algae prevented from growing for at least 12 weeks compared to the current 3-4 weeks after cleaning.
  • The requirement for a truck-mounted water ‘jet-blast’ is significantly reduced.
  • The risk of slipping is significantly reduced.



Anti-fouling for NSW Coastal Pools and Platforms

Attachment 2: Field Trial Report


Todd Walton, Antifouling technologies for coastal pools and platforms and community responses (Honours Thesis).

Monitoring, Evaluating and Reporting Climate Change Adaptation in Local Government

Aim and Objectives

The research is based on the ‘Systems Approach in Metropolises’ project and aims to explore opportunities for mainstreaming adaptation through monitoring, evaluation and reporting. The ‘Systems Approach in Metropolises’ project conducted by the SCCG in collaboration with the CSIRO and the University of the Sunshine Coast has shown that adaptation activities in SCCG Member Councils are currently not being systematically evaluated. Yet doing so could provide an opportunity for mutual learning and help spreading best practices. It would also assist stock taking by the state government as well as providing a helpful tool for community reporting. Thus following the recommendations of the ‘Systems Approach’ project this research will explore ways in collaboration with Councils to monitor, evaluate and report on adaptation progress.

The major benefits of this Masters research include:

  • Better understanding of how Councils approach monitoring & reporting of adaptation measures;
  • Opportunities for learning among the SCCG Member Councils and from Councils of other jurisdictions;
  • Identification of best practises in mainstreaming adaptation; and
  • Providing a provision of research so to enable development of a climate change adaptation monitoring framework for local government and others.

For more information contact Timo Leiter, Institute of Environmental Studies, University of NSW: