Port of Newcastle called on to fix erosion issues at Stockton Beach

SAVING STOCKO: Stockton community advocate Simon Jones says the Port of Newcastle has a role to play in stopping beach erosion. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

SAVING STOCKO: Stockton community advocate Simon Jones says the Port of Newcastle has a role to play in stopping beach erosion. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

ADVOCATES who are pushing for an end to Stockton Beach’s erosion issues say the problem would have been fixed long ago “if this was Merewether or Newcastle Beach”, and have called on the Port of Newcastle to fund a permanent solution.

It comes after Newcastle council on Tuesday confirmed it has closed a section of the beach, between Stone and Hereford streets, as a result of recent erosion.

The council also confirmed it was investigating another fix for erosion at north Stockton, which comes on top of other work completed further south earlier this year.

Community advocate Simon Jones, who formed the group Save Stockton Beach, said frustrated residents were tired of “band-aid” solutions to the ongoing problem.

Instead, Mr Jones is pointing his finger at the Port of Newcastle, which he believes should be held responsible for funding a permanent solution to the erosion “as it’s their infrastructure causing the problem”.

According to the 2014 council-commissioned Coastal Zone Hazards Study, the harbour’s breakwalls have the effect of acting as a barrier, effectively trapping the sand from reaching the beach.

“Considering the amount of money that comes through the port as a direct result of the destruction of Stockton, they should be coming to the party with a solution,” he said. “If this was happening in Merewether or Newcastle Beach, this wouldn’t be a problem. It would’ve been taken care of.”

The council has previously investigated a range of options to manage erosion at Stockton, including the construction of an artificial headland or artificial reef, which came with price tags of between $14 million and $31 million.

However, state government funding was rejected in 2009 as it was deemed too expensive.

The council declined to say if it believed the Port should be partly funding any of the erosion management options after a series of questions.

The Port of Newcastle said it was not responsible for fixing Stockton’s erosion issues, as it is “outside the port boundary and is not part of the port lease or Port of Newcastle’s landholdings”.

A spokeswoman said the Port contributed to the health of the beach by assisting with the renourishment program, which uses sand dredged from the harbour entrance and dumped offshore.

Mr Jones said the program was “clearly” ineffective.

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