STATE-wide sea level rise planning benchmarks have been dropped by the NSW Government in a move it says gives landowners more freedom to protect their properties and councils the freedom to base their policies on local conditions.
NSW Environment Minister Robyn Parker said the new rules would also halve penalties for property owners who broke the law by trying to protect their homes from storm surges.
"Changes to the legislation will improve coastal management in NSW by cutting red tape, reducing uncertainty and helping people protect their property," Ms Parker said.
"Importantly, excessive penalties for offences relating to the inappropriate use of these works to protect property have been halved."
The announcement comes only days after a Sydney lawyer called for coastal councils to be given increased protection from legal action related to erosion and climate change.
Andrew Beatty said councils could not afford the cost of fighting off residents irate with their erosion and climate change policies and the State Government needed to either strengthen the powers of coastal councils or help pay their legal bills.
Ms Parker said the changes to coastal management would be followed by further reforms developed by the Coastal Ministerial Taskforce as part of stage two, including support for councils and landowners.
Ms Parker said stage one of the NSW Government's comprehensive coastal reforms means landowners can now more easily use sandbags to reduce erosion of their property, the compulsory application of sea level rise benchmarks has been removed and clarity will be delivered to councils on the preparation of 149 notices.
"We will assist local councils by providing expert information and advice on future sea level rise projections relevant to their local area," she said.
Ms Parker said councils had been given an additional 12 months to complete their Coastal Zone Management plans.
Improved management of the NSW coast was a priority for the government and the changes marked the start of what would become a complete overhaul of coastal management.
Ms Parker said a series of information sessions for coastal communities and councils had begun and would continue until November 5.
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