Developing a policy for managing coastal Crown land in NSW

Ms Catherine Knight1

1NSW Department of Planning, Industry & Environment – Crown Lands, Ballina, Australia


Large tracts of the NSW coast is Crown land managed under the Crown Land Management Act 2016 ─ including many beaches, river entrances and estuary foreshores. This high value, highly contested land is challenging to manage due to issues such as high population growth, development pressure, dynamic coastal processes and climate change. In addition, legislative complexity and uncertainty, combined with a lack of strategic direction and planning, can lead to fragmented and ad hoc management ─ producing sub optimum outcomes for communities and the environment.

With the commencement of the Crown Land Management Act 2016 and the Coastal Management Act 2016 in 2018 there is a more contemporary and integrated framework in place with which to manage coastal Crown land. To take advantage of this opportunity, the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment – Crown Lands is developing a policy for managing coastal Crown land, including submerged Crown land.

A key focus of the Marine Estate Management Strategy 2018-2025 (MEMS) is improving the way foreshore development, use and waterway infrastructure is managed. With this theme in mind, the MEMS is assisting Crown Lands to develop the policy for coastal Crown land. This is through the provision of funds and resources, and an emphasis on a collaborative and whole of government approach to developing the policy.

This presentation will outline the aims, objectives and key themes of the coastal Crown land policy, and implications for both managers and stakeholders of the coastal and marine estate in NSW.


For over 3 years Catherine has worked as a Coastal Management Specialist for the NSW Government’s Department of Planning, Industry and Environment – Crown Lands. Catherine has also worked at both the local and federal government level in coastal, estuary and natural resource management. Catherine is currently studying towards a Master’s degree in Natural Hazard Management – focused on coastal hazards.