What is Coastal Erosion

Coastal erosion is the loss of land along the shoreline due to the natural removal of beach and dune material in response to changing wave and water level conditions. During storms coastal erosion can occur rapidly, causing damage and potential danger to buildings, infrastructure and people.


Weather conditions leading to coastal erosion in NSW are typically associated with intense low pressure systems off the coast which generate large waves and elevated water levels. These low pressure systems include tropical cyclones, ex-tropical cyclones and east coast lows.

 The extent of coastal erosion can be influenced by a number of natural factors including: tides; waves; water level; wind; rips; runoff and headlands. It can also be affected by the presence of sea walls and other structures.

Climate change is predicted to result in increased coastal erosion over time, as sea levels rise and storm intensity increases.

The NSW SES has developed a Coastal Erosion Guide available for download here - Coastal Erosion StormSafe Guide

Information for Councils

The Coastal Erosion StormSafe Guide can also be localised for coastal council areas. The NSW SES will provide councils with print-ready and web-ready versions of the guide which have council logo, contacts and local coastal erosion images. Council can then print these for their communities or have this version available on their websites.

Councils need to contact their local NSW SES Region Headquarters and talk to the Community Engagement Coordinator to organise for logos, contact details and/or images to be sent to the NSW SES to be included into the localised version of the guide. An example of this guide is available here: Council area Localised Coastal Erosion Guide

Print-ready and web-ready versions of the generic guide are also available to councils and coastal NSW SES Regions have a small quantity of printed generic guides available.


Local Council Coastal Erosion StormSafe Guides

Gosford Coastal Erosion StormSafe Guide

Byron Coastal Erosion StormSafe Guide

Wyong Coastal Erosion StormSafe Guide


Coastal Inundation

Coastal inundation is the flooding of low-lying coastal land by ocean waters. Along the NSW coast there are many low-lying areas above the normal high tide level that are subject to coastal inundation. These include wetland and other fringe areas of coastal lagoons and rivers, and the areas behind beach and dune systems. Buildings in low-lying coastal areas can be inundated as a consequence of storm surge conditions.

Emergency Management Arrangements for Coastal Erosion and Inundation

The SES as the combat (lead) agency for storm damage control is responsible for the emergency management of coastal erosion and inundation as a result of severe storms. The SES prepares emergency plans for coastal erosion and inundation and coordinates the emergency response to coastal erosion and inundation.

Warning Systems for Coastal Erosion and Inundation

The Bureau of Meteorology issues Severe Weather Warnings when damaging waves or storm surge conditions are anticipated that may result in coastal erosion or inundation. These warnings are broadcast over local radio stations. Warnings are also available on the Bureau of Meteorology website .

What should you do to prepare yourself?

You can take some basic measures right now to prepare for coastal erosion and inundation. These measures include:

  • Keeping a list of emergency numbers and assembling an emergency kit
  • Developing a home or business emergency plan
  • Developing a knowledge of what warning systems are available

What should you do when coastal erosion or inundation is likely?

When a Severe Weather Warning for damaging surf or storm surge conditions is issued you should:

  • Stay out of the water and away from areas exposed to damaging surf
  • Stay clear of areas where active erosion is occurring, or is likely to occur and advise your local council
  • Keep in contact with your neighbours
  • Listen to your local radio station and other media for information, updates and advice
  • Follow all instructions given to you by emergency services
  • Prepare to evacuate if required
  • If you require assistance call the SES on 132 500