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Shoreline, beach and dune works

Areas on the coast such as sand dunes and intertidal areas play a very important role in protecting adjacent infrastructure and facilities. They also contain important ecological values.

While shoreline, beach and dune environments are generally the product of dynamic coastal processes including waves, wind and sediment transport, they are at the same time also sensitive to disturbance from human activities.

The cost of replacing these natural coastal defences with either engineered structures, such as rock walls, or through beach nourishment, dune reconstruction works or revegetation is expensive and can result in negative environmental, social and economic impacts.

Building structures or undertaking works on beaches and dunes or in foreshore areas such as mangroves may have significant impacts on the ecological and natural defensive vales of these areas. Consequently, development proposals must be assessed carefully.

However, the nature and scale of the activities proposed is related to the risk of damage to these environments. This is why development that is generally made assessable in a coastal management district (which includes offshore, intertidal and hindshore areas) may be either:

  • minor works
  • works eligible for exemption
  • works that require development approval.

In considering proposed development in these areas, the potential impacts on the following range of values will be considered:

  • ecological values
  • protection offered by the coastal features to adjacent infrastructure and use
  • the establishment of buffer zones to minimise the impacts of erosion and tidal inundation
  • the physical shoreline response to engineered coastal protection structures compared to ‘soft’ responses, such as beach nourishment
  • the impact of development on recreational opportunities highly valued by the community (for example, the establishment of a rock wall may result in the loss of the beach)
  • scenic values.

The following is a list of common development types that occur on the coast:

  • beach access structures
  • beach nourishment works
  • rock walls and other engineered property protection structures
  • drainage infrastructure
  • vegetation clearing
  • dune fencing
  • pipes and cables
  • public amenities
  • removal of material/general works
  • roads/carparks
  • surf lifesaving towers
  • swimming enclosures.

Further information to assist in the preparation of development applications is available from the links listed below.

Guidelines and policies

To ensure you are fully informed, and before lodging a formal application for an approval or permit, read the guidelines and related government policies on this issue.

Policy documents and guidelines provide guidance on the assessment of proposed development under the Sustainable Planning Act 2009. They also provide information on the role of the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection (EHP) as a technical agency for particular assessable developments.

Pre-design/pre-lodgement meeting service

The Department of Infrastructure, Local Government and Planning (DILGP) offers a comprehensive pre- design/lodgement conferencing service for applicants. The service is focused on projects that may include issues requiring a high level of assessment. The service includes meeting with the project manager (DILGP) to discuss all the information requirements to be provided with your application. If the project is relevant to EHP areas of interest, a representative officer of the department may also attend the pre-lodgement meeting.

For more details, visit DILGP’s website.

Permits and approvals

The approval(s) required to carry out development in the coastal management district, which includes tidal waters, intertidal areas and generally all areas of dune, will depend on the nature and scope of your project. Development assessment is subject to processes of the Integrated Development Assessment System (IDAS) under the Sustainable Planning Act 2009.

To find out how to apply for an approval or permit to carry out the proposed works, you will need to download and read the guidelines and key reference materials.

Forms and fees

Download the IDAS application forms here or contact DILGP on 13 QGOV (13 74 68). IDAS Form 1 and Form 23 need to be completed for this type of work.

Last reviewed
17 June 2016
Last updated
20 August 2013