Module 7

Module 1 Home





Who Cares for Our Coast? Understanding How
Our Coastal Zone is Managed



Workshop Outline

Materials Required

Further Reading


This module presents a sequence of activities to increase the understanding of the goals, policies and opportunities for participation in the coastal planning process. It seeks to provide answers to the following questions:

  • What are the goals that we, as a society, have agreed to about the use of coastal and marine environments?

  • What special understandings do we need to interpret these goals?

  • What structures, laws, processes and practices are currently in place to ensure the implementation of these goals?

  • How can we have our say in the processes of deciding goals, in general, and in making specific decisions on developments that affect coastal and marine environments?


The objectives of this workshop are:

  • to explain the objectives of Ecologically Sustainable Development (ESD);

  • to illustrate how ESD principles can be incorporated into coastal planning;

  • to provide an overview of the structure of environmental planning processes, including an awareness of the agencies involved in decisions about the use of the coastal zone; and

  • to identify opportunities for citizens to participate in the processes of coastal planning and approval of coastal development.

Workshop Outline

There are six activities in this workshop:

  1. Introduction
    The introduction provides a rationale for the need to understand how coastal policy is made, and the structures and processes in place to implement agreed goals for the future of the coastal zone.

  2. What are the Goals of ESD?
    This section presents the terminology and concepts outlined in the Commonwealth Coastal Policy. The activity encourages the participants to become familiar with terms and concepts and, in particular, focuses on an understanding of 'sustainability' in the context of activities and developments within coastal zones.

  3. Getting Past the Language
    This activity explores the meanings of common words that have particular definitions in the language of policy and planning. In particular, emotive connotations of some words are examined with the goal of promoting understanding of the processes of coastal planning.

  4. How does Coastal Planning Work?
    This section examines the overall structure of planning processes and responsibilities, beginning at the Commonwealth level, focusing on the central role of State/Territory governments, and the implementation role of local government. The activity casts participants in the roles of the three levels of government and asks them to identify their involvement in evaluating the suitability of four hypothetical coastal developments. The Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) process is discussed and the key tool of the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) is explored.

  5. How Can the Public Be Involved?
    This section focuses on the role of the public in the coastal planning process. The activity is an extension of the previous activity, and asks participants to identify the points where public input is possible in the evaluation of four hypothetical development proposals. The various methods of public participation and their effectiveness are evaluated.

  6. Summary
    This section provides a synthesis of the ideas in this workshop and an overview of the challenges in teaching the material.

Materials Required

A. Provided

Overhead Transparencies

OHT 1 Overview and Objectives of the Workshop
OHT 2 ESD - Goal, Objectives and Guiding Principles
OHT 3 Problems with the Present Management of the Coastal Zone
OHT 4 Approaches to Environmental Planning
OHT 5 What is Environmental Impact Assessment?
OHT 6 Some Problems with the Environmental Planning Process
OHT 7 Some Achievements of the Environmental Impact Assessment Process



Resource 1 Types of Coastal Developments and Activities
Resource 2 Planning Terms and Definitions
Resource 3 A Skin Cancer Policy: An Example of How Planning Terms are Used
Resource 4 The Sustainability of Coastal Developments and Activities
Resource 5 The Commonwealth Government Role in Coastal Planning and Management
Resource 6 The State/Territory Role in Coastal Planning and Management
Resource 7 The Local Government Role in Coastal Planning and Management
Resource 8 Northern Territory - Government Agencies
Resource 9 NSW - Government Agencies
Resource 10 Victoria - Government Agencies
Resource 11 Western Australia - Government Agencies
Resource 12 South Australia - Government Agencies
Resource 13 ACT - Government Agencies
Resource 14 Tasmania - Government Agencies
Resource 15 Queensland - Government Agencies
Resource 16 Four Hypothetical Coastal Developments
Resource 17 Generalised EIA Process for Major Developments
Resource 18 Methods for Public Participation in Coastal Planning



Reading 1 Why do We Need to Know about Coastal Planning?
Reading 2 Terms and Definitions: A List for Facilitators
Reading 3 How Does Coastal Planning Work?
Reading 4 The Environmental Impact Assessment Process

B. To be obtained

Activity 2B
  • An atlas topographic map with details of coastal habitats in the chosen study area.
  • Butcher paper and light-weight cardboard, blu-tac or similar to mount cardboard.
  • Information on specific planning goals/policies of relevant local councils.
  • Examples of how a planning process operates using local examples.
  • A copy of an EIS for a local development.

Activity 3A

  • An envelope for each group of 3-4 participants containing slips of paper cut up from copies of Resource 3.

Further Reading

Brown, A.L. and McDonald, G.T. (1995) From Environmental Impact Assessment to Environmental Design and Planning, Australian Journal of Environmental Management 2 (2).

Department of the Environment, Sport and Territories (1995) Living on the Coast: The Commonwealth Coastal Policy, Canberra.

Manuel, M., McElroy, B. and Smith, R. (1995) Coastal Conflicts, Cambridge University Press, Melbourne.

Resource Assessment Commission: Coastal Zone Inquiry, Final Report of the Resource Assessment Commission, November 1993, Resource Assessment Commission, Canberra.

Underwood, A.J. and Chapman, M.G. (eds) (1995) Coastal Marine Ecology of Temperate Australia, University of New South Wales Press, Sydney.

Note: For details of the Commonwealth Government's procedures for Environmental Impact Assessment consult the ERIN Homepage at