Marks Point Belmont South Local Adaptation Plan

    What is a Local Adaptation Plan?

    Local Adaptation Plans are location-specific plans developed with the community that guide:

    • future land use decisions
    • how we design and maintain roads and drainage systems
    • what is required to make buildings safe and durable
    • emergency response during floods and storm events
    • how we manage erosion and beach recession, and
    • how we keep the Lake clean and healthy.

    The first Local Adaptation Plan was prepared in collaboration with the communities of Marks Point and Belmont South and ?can be viewed here (opens new tab)

    What is local adaptation planning and why is the City doing it?

    Adaptation planning identifies actions that Council, in conjunction with our community, can take to respond to a change in climate and prepare for projected increases in lake levels and lake flooding over a long period of time.

    These actions are designed to reduce these impacts and ensure our City is resilient and continues to prosper. Adaptation planning is about understanding what options are available and deciding which ones are best at a local level for our City.

    Adaptation plans will guide future decisions, such as how we design and maintain roads and drainage systems, how to make buildings safe and durable, and how we manage erosion and maintain a healthy lake.

    Adaptation Planning

    • Acknowledges that risks are location specific and are best addressed at the local level.
    • Recognises that being prepared requires input from landowners, business owners, residents, special interest groups and organisations, Council, and state government agencies.
    • Is timed so the actions are implemented to accommodate increases in risk, as they are required.
    • Identifies the criteria for a successful outcome (economic, social, environmental)
    • Provides a level of certainty for decision-making by the public, Council and others, yet is flexible  enough to change with changing information

    Is sea level rise included on a Section 10.7 Certificate?

    A Section 10.7 Certificate (formerly 149) is a mandatory certificate you need to get when purchasing a property. It is a planning certificate under Section 10.7 of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979.

    Planning certificates give information on the development potential of a parcel of land including the planning restrictions that apply to the land on the date the certificate is issued. There are three types of 10.7 planning certificates; 10.7 (2), 10.7 (2) Clause 3 Complying Development and 10.7 (2&5).

    Most properties in low-lying parts of the City have had a flood risk notation on the Section 10.7 Certificate since 1997 (or before).

    There has been no change in the number of properties with flood notations (which includes sea level rise) since 2012.

    In 2012, the specific reference to sea level rise on Section 10.7 certificates was removed, as this potential future risk was incorporated into the reference of hazard from flooding.

    Why has Council adopted sea level rise benchmarks of 0.4 metres by 2050 and 0.9 metres by 2100?

    The NSW Government requires that, in determining appropriate sea level rise benchmarks, councils in NSW should consider information on historical and projected future sea level rise that is widely accepted by competent scientific opinion. Council receives its advice on projected sea level rise from pre-eminent scientific sources in Australia, such as the CSIRO, the Bureau of Meteorology, the NSW Chief Scientist and Engineer, and the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage. These organisations review scientific evidence about climate change including sea level projections.

    The current rate of sea level rise off the coast of NSW is about 2.6 millimetres per year. The best available evidence is that mean sea level is expected to rise by 0.4 metres by 2050 and 0.9 metres by 2100. This means that sea level is expected to rise quicker in the future than it does now. Australian scientific bodies regularly review measured and projected rates of sea level rise, and they all advise that lower levels of sea level rise are highly unlikely. The next global review of measurements and projections is scheduled in 2021, and this will lead to a review of the Australian information.

    What is freeboard and why is it added to flood planning levels?

    'Freeboard' is a margin of safety applied on top of estimated flood levels to allow for factors such as wind waves, flood debris, the local effects of adjoining structures, changes in rainfall due to climate change, local topography, channel blockages, and filling on the flood plain.

    The standard allowance for freeboard is 0.50 metres. The NSW Flood Risk Management Guide says that allowance for projected sea level rise should be calculated separately and should not be included in freeboard. Floor levels for new buildings in flood prone areas are typically set at 0.50 metres above the 1:100 year flood level.

    Should we have two policies – current flooding and future sea level rise?

    The Lake Macquarie Waterway Flood Risk Management Study and Plan considers both current flooding, and future flooding incorporating projected future rises in lake level. 

    The flood level that is used for planning depends on the circumstances. For example, current flood levels are used by insurance companies when they calculate their risks for next year’s insurance. A flood level over 50 years is used when calculating floor levels for a new home. A flood level over 100 years is used when calculating land levels in a major new subdivision.

    What is the Lake Macquarie Waterway Flood Risk Management Study and Plan?

    Lake Macquarie is a tidal lake in the Hunter Region of New South Wales, providing commercial and recreational use, as well as having high scenic value. The Lake has a permanently open outlet into the Pacific Ocean via the narrow and shallow Swansea channel. It is one of the largest coastal lakes in eastern Australia with a foreshore over 174km in length.

    The Lake Macquarie Waterway Flood Risk Management Study and Plan, adopted by Council in June 2012, identifies properties near the Lake that are currently flood affected during a large flood event, and the additional properties that would be affected by flooding if permanent Lake levels rise 0.9 metres in the future. Approximately 7,500 homes may be affected in a serious flood when lake levels rise by 0.9 metres. Scientific advice indicates such a rise is likely within the next 80-100 years.

    Many low-lying properties already experience poor drainage, periodic flooding and occasional inundation during high tides, and these hazards would increase with gradually rising lake levels. The Lake Flood Risk Management Plan recommends Local Adaptation Plans be prepared for these low-lying areas. 

    What is the Coastal Zone Management Plan?

    Council’s Coastal Zone Management Plan (CZMP) 2015-2023 has been prepared in accordance with State Government legislation. The CZMP aims to preserve and enhance the environmental value of the coastline, estuary and channel amid increased visitation and pressure from urban development across the City. The CZMP has been prepared in collaboration with the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage, as well as other agency and community stakeholders.

    Most actions are for Council to implement, but long term environmental health and community wellbeing and enjoyment also require contributions from State agencies, particularly NSW Trade and Investment (Crown Lands Division), businesses and the community. The southern part of the Lake Macquarie catchment is located in Wyong Shire, so a healthy lake also depends on the actions of Wyong Shire Council.

    The CZMP will inform the preparation of the Marks Point and Belmont South Foreshore Management Plan. The document can be viewed here.

Marks Point Belmont South Foreshore Management Plan

    Why do we need a Foreshore Management Plan?

    The need for this Foreshore Management Plan (FMP) was identified in the Marks Point Belmont South Local Adaptation Plan (LAP) prepared by Council and residents in 2015-16.  Residents wanted clearer guidance and direction on how current issues including foreshore erosion, seagrass wrack and public amenity/access could be addressed whilst ensuring that planning for projected lake level rise will still take place.  Residents identified that the planning, design and approval process for foreshore works can be complicated at times and that further guidance was needed to balance current and future issues. The draft FMP, accompanying toolkit and case studies (located in the document library) aim to meet resident and stakeholder needs.

    How was the draft Plan prepared?

    The draft Marks Point and Belmont South Foreshore Management Plan (the draft Plan) was prepared by a working group including Council staff and local community members from Marks Point and Belmont South.  

    Seven community members contributed to the draft Plan, and additional feedback from the local community was collected during field inspections and independent enquiries in the area.  Over 20 local community representatives also attended a drop-in session held in 2018 that assisted in scoping the draft Plan.

    Some of the community representatives were also involved in the preparation of the Marks Point and Belmont South Local Adaptation Plan (MPBS LAP) released in 2016, and have extensively contributed towards these projects for the last nine years. The draft FMP is also an opportunity for residents unfamiliar with the draft Plan and/or the MPBS LAP to learn more about the project and provide input. 

    Why do we need to include raising the foreshore?

    The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) projects that sea and lake levels may rise up to 0.9m by 2100.  Council and the Marks Point and Belmont South community developed a Local Adaptation Plan (LAP) to help prepare and respond to this risk. You can read  Marks Point and Belmont South Local Adaptation Plan - Volume 1 (2.78 MB) (pdf)  and  Marks Point and Belmont South Local Adaptation Plan - Volume 2 (26.5 MB) (pdf) for more information.

    By managing the effects of permanent tidal inundation, rising water tables and more frequent flooding, the Plan enables residents and businesses of Marks Point and Belmont South to continue to enjoy the benefits of living in a lakeside community, with the same level of services as other Lake Macquarie communities.   The LAP identifies current and projected flooding and inundation hazards and identifies a 10 year strategy for Council and the community to start planning and responding to increased risks.  Core adaptation actions include: 

    • Constructing revetments (sloping rock seawalls) to protect the foreshore from erosion caused by rising lake levels

     • Elevating low-lying land by progressively filling to maintain ground levels above rising lake levels

     • Raising and improving the design of infrastructure such as drains and roads to match the progressive raising of land and to keep them functioning as lake and groundwater levels rise 

    • Constructing new buildings and additions with floors above projected flood levels to reduce flood damage and

     • Raising or renewing older low-lying homes to enable filling of the land beneath and to lift their floors above projected flood levels.

    Most of the foreshore is public land, why doesn't Council repair it all like they have in other areas?

    The perimeter of Lake Macquarie measures around 175km. There are some stretches of freehold land adjoining the lake, however the majority of the foreshore in public ownership and/or control (NSW Crown, Lake Macquarie and Central Coast Councils). As such Council resources and funding to manage foreshore areas is limited.  There is also a diverse range of foreshore types and uses around the lake ranging from natural/untouched foreshores adjoining National Parks/Reserves to highly engineered foreshores in urban areas.  Foreshore remediation is considered as part of Council’s 10, 4 and 1 year Strategic and Operational Plans.  Council undertakes inspections of public foreshore areas using a risk management approach and also relies on the community to identify safety, amenity or environmental hazards on the lake foreshore.  Council actively seeks funding to stabilise or treat foreshores in high priority sites on public land.  

    Can I build a seawall or some other structure to protect the foreshore adjoining my property?

    Management of public and private foreshore areas is regulated by a number of State and Local Planning instruments which are outlined in the draft FMP. State and local governments are moving away from traditional (hard engineered) seawalls as an approach to treating/managing lake foreshores.  As an alternative, the draft FMP outlines:

    • a set of five potential concept designs to consider a useful basis for potential treatment options that might be applied to stretches of foreshore between Belmont South and Marks Point
    • a foreshore map providing an overlay of the five concept treatment designs ie: where they might be suitable for application along the various sections of the Marks Point Belmont South foreshore 
    • detailed drawings (plan, elevation and photo-overlay) of each of the five concept designs 
    • a set of guiding principles and recommendations to assist with designing, planning (including approval) and constructing suitable foreshore designs.

    Can the approval process be simplified?

    The planning and regulatory framework applying to foreshore areas in Lake Macquarie aims to balance the social, economic and environmental values and aspects of our unique City. Council and residents identified over a dozen State and Local regulatory and policy instruments relating to lake and foreshore areas.  The planning and approval process may look onerous at first; however a key purpose of the Plan is to help navigate and simplify the regulatory and approval processes. The draft FMP and Toolkit includes guidance and a step-by-step checklist to simplify the planning and approval process, for e.g.

    • are the proposed measures consistent with the objects of the Coastal Management Act 2016 and the Coastal State Environmental Planning Policy 2018? 
    • are the proposed measures likely to gain approval by Department of Primary Industries (Fisheries) and Crown Land as per their policies and guidelines? 
    • do the proposed measures comply with the Lake Macquarie Development Control Plan 2014? 
    • do the proposed measures comply with Council's Foreshore Stabilisation and Rehabilitation Guidelines? 

    How has the community been involved in developing the draft Plan?

    Council and residents in the Marks Point and Belmont South area have been working together since around 2014 to plan and implement measures to build resilience to natural disasters (inundation, flooding and storm events) and adapt to projected sea/lake level rise.  Community representatives volunteered their time and local knowledge in preparation of the FMP and the Local Adaptation Plan. Visit the Implementing Marks Point Belmont South LAP site for more information on the FMP and LAP and how residents have helped shaped these Plans.

    How can I provide feedback?

    You can provide feedback on the draft Plan by completing the online submission form, emailing [email protected] or by sending a written submission to Box 1906, Hunter Region Mail Centre, NSW 2310 with the title 'Feedback on Marks Point and Belmont South Foreshore Plan'.


    Why does the draft Plan not include timelines and budget?

    The draft Plan includes a prioritisation map which identifies areas most at risk in terms of key impacts of erosion, minimal land width (public access and future adaptation) and safety hazards. The draft Plan also includes clear recommendations to assist the community and Council in undertaking foreshore stabilisation works.

    Council can use this prioritisation map when considering funding options and timeframes for estuarine and coastal areas requiring stabilisation works, as outlined in the Lake Macquarie City Community Strategic Plan 2017–2027, the annual Operational Plan, and the Coastal Management Program (under preparation). The draft Plan and Toolkit can assist private landowners interested in carrying out works on private land or private landowners keen to implement works ahead of Council’s schedule.

    The draft Marks Point and Belmont South Local Adaptation Plan identifies risks for the areas and provides long-term strategies to respond to rising lake levels. Exact timelines for installing, retrofitting and raising of foreshore treatments will vary overtime and depend on trigger points i.e. rising lake levels and life of the foreshore treatment. It is recommended to monitor existing or new foreshore treatments to ensure they are working effectively and adapt over time as required.

    What about local drainage?

    Many areas around Belmont South and Marks Point are low lying (e.g. less than 1m above sea/lake level) making it difficult for stormwater to drain away.  High lake levels (e.g. 0.6m caused by catchment flooding, tides and/or atmospheric anomalies) can also cause inundation of land adjoining the lake meaning drainage can be an issue for some residents and visitors to the area.

    This situation is projected to worsen with sea/lake level rise.  The Marks Point and Belmont South Local Adaptation Plan (LAP) helps guide future decisions, such as how to design and maintain roads and drainage systems.  The draft FMP identifies local drainage as a key consideration in the design and construction of foreshore treatments i.e. it is essential that foreshore treatments are designed and constructed to allow protect against inundation (and in some locations – wave overtopping) whilst allowing local stormwater to drain into the lake.  

    Council and the community have recognised the importance of sequencing/integrating future adaptation measures outlined in the LAP: 

    • Constructing revetments (sloping rock seawalls) to protect the foreshore from erosion caused by rising lake levels

    • Elevating low-lying land by progressively filling to maintain ground levels above rising lake levels and

    • Raising and improving the design of infrastructure such as drains and roads to match the progressive raising of land and to keep them functioning as lake and groundwater levels rise.