NSW Government sends Newcastle City Council back to drawing board over long-term solution for Stockton erosion

Solution needed: Community advocate Simon Jones, who organised the meeting, outlined a range of proposed solutions to tackle the erosion problem at Stockton.
Solution needed: Community advocate Simon Jones, who organised the meeting, outlined a range of proposed solutions to tackle the erosion problem at Stockton.

A permanent solution for Stockton’s erosion woes has stalled, after it was revealed that the state government’s Office of Environment and Heritage refused to certify Newcastle City Council’s Coastal Management Plan.

There was standing room only at the public meeting to discuss the decades-old issue of erosion at Stockton Beach on Thursday evening.

Council representative Mark Manning told the meeting that the Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH) had written to council in August to say it wouldn’t certify the management plan, which was submitted last December.

The plan needs to be certified in order for council to access state government funding for the projects contained in the document – which also covers management of the remaining Newcastle coastline outside of Stockton.

But Mr Manning told the meeting that OEH indicated one of the key issues was the cost of an artificial headland, which the document identified as the preferred option for managing Stockton’s erosion problem.

While council revises the plan, the meeting heard, work on projects in council’s control would continue.

This included initial work on a sand nourishment program, completing the sea wall near the surf life saving club, finishing Dalby Oval rehabilitation and repairing the northern end of the Mitchell Street sea wall – though council was still waiting on Crown Lands’ permission for that job.

Meeting organiser Simon Jones took the 120 community members gathered at the meeting through possible ways the erosion issue could be mitigated, from sea walls, artificial headlands and artificial reefs to groynes, dredging, sand scraping and sand bypassing.

“Erosion is a real and immediate threat,” he said.

“We’ve waited for decades for the fix and that’s long enough.

“The benefits should outweigh the price tag – infrastructure will be saved and amenity will be improved.”

While asking a question of the council experts, one man – who told the meeting he was born in the town – said management of erosion was about protecting the beach as well as surrounding assets.

“The degeneration of that beach is a sad, sad thing,” he said. “It’s like losing a friend.”

Another resident piped up: “If it’s not addressed now, we’ll be stuffed”.

Earlier in the meeting, Newcastle MP Tim Crakanthorp said he would compile a list of questions to OEH that the Stockton community wanted addressed. He said the state government had “dropped the ball” on the issue.

“Enough talk, enough consultation, we need to get moving. I think everyone is pretty frustrated,” Mr Crakanthorp said.

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