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About coastal development

Development activities can have significant impacts on the processes and ecological values of coastal areas including beaches, dunes and foreshores.

Regulating development in these areas helps protect and conserve environmental, social and economic values of coastal resources and enhances the resilience of coastal communities to coastal hazards.

If you are proposing development in a coastal zone you may need to first obtain an approval which is assessed against the State Planning Policy.

What is assessable coastal development?

  1. Operational work
    • tidal works; or
    • any of the following carried out completely or partly in a coastal management district—
      • interfering with quarry material, as defined under the Coastal Protection and Management Act 1995 (Coastal Act), on State coastal land above high-water mark
      • disposing of dredge spoil, or other solid waste material, in tidal water
      • constructing an artificial waterway
      • removing or interfering with coastal dunes on land, other than State coastal land, that is in an erosion prone area.
      Operational work is not considered assessable development if it is:
      • accepted development under schedule 7, part 3, section 10 of the Planning Regulation 2017; or
      • excluded work; or
      • Priority Development Areas (PDA)-related development under the Economic Development Act, schedule 1.
  2. Material change of use in a Coastal Management District.
  3. Reconfiguring a lot in a Coastal Management District.

Development assessment process

For general information including an overview of development assessment and approvals visit the Queensland Planning System website.

Certain tidal and operational works in the coastal zone can be classified as :

Works in the coastal zone may have serious environmental risks or will be exposed to coastal hazards. The area of interest in the coastal zone is identified as the coastal management district (CMD). The Queensland Government provides coastal hazard area maps to help guide land-use planning and development decisions.

If you are planning development in a coastal area you need to understand if the area is affected by coastal hazards such as erosion and storm tide inundation. Find out more about Development assessment process.

Excluded works of a minor or inconsequential nature

Some tidal and operational works may be classified as excluded work—which are works of a minor or inconsequential nature—which means they don’t require a development approval.

To find out if the work is excluded, read the Guideline for coastal development—Excluded work (PDF, 308KB).

Accepted development

Accepted coastal development refers to tidal works, or works in a coastal management district that are of moderate environmental risk, that do not require a development approval. However accepted development must comply with the Code for accepted development for tidal works, or work completely or partly in a coastal management district (EPP/2017/3930) (PDF, 457KB).

Details on the specific type of work and limitations on the size or scale of the work are provided in the code and this should be carefully examined before deciding if the code applies.

If the work is not covered by the code, or the acceptable outcomes cannot be met, then the works cannot commence and a development application must be made.

Coastal development that is triggered for assessment

Any of the following works carried out in a CMD will require a development approval before the works can be carried out.

To apply for a development approval visit the Queensland Planning System website.

1. Tidal works and prescribed tidal works

Tidal works are any works carried in, on or over tidal land. Prescribed tidal works are a sub-set of tidal works carried out in a tidal area for a local government.

Find out more about the regulations and requirements related to tidal works and prescribed tidal works.

2. Interfering with quarry material

Interfering with quarry material is the excavation or disturbance of material—such as sand, mud, clay, earth—from State land for the purposes of constructing a work or building.

3. Disposing of dredge spoil or other solid waste in tidal water

Waste material, generated by activities such as dredging, can only be disposed of in tidal water if it does not cause environmental harm. The disposal of this waste material is triggered for development assessment and can only proceed if a development approval has been granted. This trigger includes any form of solid waste including solid waste from land e.g. concrete or soil from a building site.

Find out more about disposing of dredge spoil or read the Guideline: Dredging and allocation of quarry material (PDF, 200KB).

4. Constructing an artificial waterway

Under the Coastal Protection and Management Act 1995 (Coastal Act), an artificial waterway is broadly defined as a canal, channel, lake or other body of water but excludes water bodies that are used for a particular purpose (e.g. water storage facilities, treatment ponds) or water bodies used for private residential purposes (e.g. swimming pools, ornamental ponds, etc).

Canals and other artificial waterways are major coastal developments that can have significant adverse impacts on coastal resources depending on where they are located and how the waterways are designed and constructed.

For further information about constructing an artificial waterway refer to Guideline: State Development Assessment Provisions State Code 8: Coastal development and tidal works (PDF, 483KB).

5. Removing or interfering with coastal dunes on land other than State coastal land in an erosion prone area

The long-term stability of beaches, dunes and other coastal landforms depend on maintaining coastal processes including the movement of sediment along the coast and the cyclical storage and release of sediment in dunes, spits and other landforms.

Major disturbances to coastal dunes on freehold and leasehold land (such as levelling of dunes or removal of sand) can adversely affect coastal processes and are subject to development assessment and approval to minimise environmental harm.

Further information is also available in the Guideline: State Development Assessment Provisions State Code 8: Coastal development and tidal works (PDF, 557KB).

6. Material change of use in a Coastal Management District

A material change of use that involves operational work in an erosion prone area in a coastal management district is assessable development if it involves:

  • extracting excavating or filling 1,000m3 or more; or
  • clearing native vegetation from an area of 1,000m2 or more; or
  • building work that involves increasing the gross floor area on the premises by 1,000m2 or more.

For more information visit the Queensland Planning System website.

7. Reconfiguring a lot in a Coastal Management District

Reconfiguring a lot in a coastal management district is assessable development if it involves moving the boundary of the lot:

  • within an erosion prone area; or
  • into or within 30 metres of the erosion prone area; or
  • creating a new lot that has a boundary within, or within 30 metres of an erosion prone area; or
  • relates to the construction of a canal.

For more information visit the Queensland Planning System website.

In certain circumstances, when reconfiguring a lot in the erosion prone area in the coastal management district, the government may require coastal land to be surrendered to the State to ensure it is appropriately managed and protected.

8. Works seaward of a coastal building line

Coastal building lines have been set for some lots in a coastal management district where development must be set back to address erosion risk. Building work that is proposed seaward of a coastal building line, is assessable development.

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