Place: Scenic Australian Foreshores
Threat: Demolition and Inappropriate Redevelopment
The Australian coastline is a unique Australian asset. Australian beaches are amongst the cleanest and best in the
world, and they belong to everyone. Any one can access and enjoy the beach, and everyone can enjoy the coastline of this, the world’s largest
island. Australians share a unique privilege, occupying a single continental landmass, yet we have clustered overwhelmingly along our coast. We
treasure this coastal lifestyle, from the metropolitan area where high-rise developments have generally been kept to a minimum, to the isolated
and pristine regional beaches away from settled areas.
These less settled coastal landscapes feature scenic coastal cliffs and headlands with wide-open views
across adjacent farmlands, often with minimal roads and buildings. There are still numerous bays and beaches along our coasts, with many
significant archaeological, anthropological and geological sites, providing habitat for important species of plants and birds. So far ‘Gold
Coast’ style developments have eluded much of the coastline. However, with some 70000 people moving to NSW coastal communities every year, and
with the expectation that the eastern coastal strip (excluding Sydney and Brisbane) will be home to 5 million people in 30 years, the modesty
and accessibility of much of our coast, is now dramatically threatened.
Description of Threat
The increasing popularity of
seaside locations for residential developments is placing the natural heritage values of these sites at heightened risk, and is putting
enormous pressure on the fragile coastline. In particular:
• Removal of the
existing height restrictions on metropolitan beachfront development threatens the visual character and cultural significance of many
• Increasing residential
development along the beachfront causes the introduction of weeds and pests (including grass) which destroy habitats and threaten the
survival of native species in many areas.
Highly publicised examples of coastal locations caught in the development
argument in 2004 include Metropolitan Perth and regional centres in the south west of WA; Glenelg Beach in SA, much of the Victorian and NSW
coast and also Point Lookout, one of the last low-key developed coastal areas left in South East Queensland. Harmoniously scaled development
is being increasingly disturbed by insensitive new development, which pays no regard to the distinctive character of earlier development or
which intrudes dramatically on formerly pristine beaches. If allowed to continue, this development will destroy completely the special
character of many coastal towns and irreparably damage large areas of fragile coastal foreshores.
As noted in 2004, the
Year of the Built Environment, national attention needs to be paid to this critical issue. Many very special places around our coastline are
threatened with the same kind of intensive, insensitive and destructive development that has damaged so much of the southern <??>
Queensland coastline. Lessons of past mistakes need to be heeded. Genuine protection of the coast relies on adhering to sustainable
development policies that address long-term solutions, rather than short-term gains.
While planning is not a
Commonwealth responsibilty, coastline protection is a national issue. The National Trust acknowledges ongoing state efforts to protect
heritage values and to better manage coastal development, but Commonwealth leadership is required to ensure all levels of government can work
together to address these complex and pressing issues.
A national commitment
through the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) to an Australian Coastal Development Policy is required. This Policy must include
• a nationwide assessment of
significant landscapes and coastal foreshores for inclusion on Heritage Registers at state and national level;
• an Australia wide program
to ensure appropriate local government protection of sensitive coastal areas through the consistent use of appropriate planning