Coastal erosion protection strategies (private works on public land) – Yorke Peninsula

Mr Arron  Broom1

1Department Of Environment, Water And Natural Resources, Adelaide, Australia


In 2016, South Australia (SA) experienced three major storms, one of which (9 May 2016) included the highest water level ever recorded at the Outer Harbor tide gauge. These events removed significant stores of beach sand, depleting critical erosion buffers and exposing coastal features and property to increased levels of risk. Accordingly, there has been a subsequent increase in enquiries and development applications for coastal erosion protection strategies (notably seawalls), particularly along the west coast of Yorke Peninsula (YP), which continue unabated.

The South Australian State Government and local government focus on protection strategies for the public good. Protection strategies designed to primarily benefit private property, for example, are left in the hands of landholders. Many coastal allotments were made freehold subject to Land Management Agreements (LMA), intended to avoid the broader community incurring costs for the protection of private development from coastal processes. Therefore, the problematic first steps for coastal communities ‘going it alone’ is coordination of landowners, agreement and cost. Without effective local leadership, projects can fail before they begin. Once commenced, there are multiple approval processes to navigate, consultants to manage and unforeseen costs to consider – often all under the primary stewardship of a single landowner. Given most protection works are proposed on public land –social and environmental concerns can divide the broader community.

This paper explores case studies on YP (successful or otherwise), associated roles and responsibilities of State Government (including the Coast Protection Board) and local government, and initiatives to facilitate better on-ground outcomes.


Arron Broom is a Coastal Policy Planner with the South Australian (SA) Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources (DEWNR). Arron has significant experience contributing to and formulating coastal planning policy and responding to complex coastal development applications as delegate for the Coast Protection Board, including many contentious coastal hazard protection strategies.