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This website provides information pertaining to the Undergraduate Thesis Part B at the University of New South Wales, School of Surveying and Spatial Information Systems

The information contained within this website is an investigation of the issue of the legal definition and status of coastal property boundaries and the public right of access. 

The right of public access to the coastline is an inherent principle instilled in the collective mind. This is the basis of the Public Trust Doctrine (PTD). A legal principle dating back to sixth century Roman law, the PTD “holds that certain resources are held by sovereign in trust and on behalf of all citizens because of the unique characteristics and central importance” (Kameri-Mbote 2007)of such resources.

Coastal hazards threaten to undermine the public’s right of access to coastal areas along the New South Wales (NSW) coastline. This coupled with the growing threat of climate change and sea level rise will accelerate the impact on the coastline. There is a strong demand and need for appropriate planning measures and controls to be implemented along the NSW coast in order to protect the right of the public to access these coastal areas.

Although such measures currently exist there is little consistency between State and Local Government planning controls and strategies. The PTD is not a recognised principle within NSW. Although it has many close ties to ecological sustainable development and inter-generational equity which forms the basis of many environmental laws.

In order to provide a broad and varied detail of information pertaining to the coastal management along the NSW coastline the following Local Government Areas have been chosen to form part of this case study:

·         Byron Shire Council

·         Warringah Council and

·         Eurobodalla Shire Council

The unique coastal processes at play in these areas lend itself to the need to tailor management plans specific to the areas concerned.

Planning options such as rolling easements and setback lines are considered in depth and their applicability within NSW is considered.

This website provides a summarised investigation into the legal definition and status of coastal property boundaries and the public right of access. A thorough analysis of current coastal management strategies and legislative controls has been undertaken in order to gather an understanding of the nature of the problem at hand. Consideration is given to finding a fair and equitable balance between public and private rights. 


Figure 1. Beach erosion at Collaroy Beach (left, Office of Environment and Heritage 2011) and Wamberal Beach erosion (right, Cechet et al 2011)