THE Port of Newcastle has denied responsibility for Stockton beach’s erosion crisis and said it was already doing its bit to help the community.
There is mounting pressure on the port owners to assist fund a long-term solution to the erosion problem that is largely caused by the Harbour-entrance breakwaters.
But a spokeswoman for the Port of Newcastle said it was already providing sand from harbour dredging to re-nourish Stockton beach.
She said the beach was “outside” the port boundary and not part of the port lease landholdings.
“The breakwaters and Macquarie Pier are NSW government assets,” she said.
“The construction of the breakwaters dates back to the late 1800s. The construction of Macquarie Pier, to link Nobbys to the mainland, dates back to the early 1800s.”
Each year about 25,000 cubic metres of sand is dredged from the harbour and dumped off Stockton coast to assist with sand re-nourishing.
“All of this suitable sand is placed at Stockton in an area designated by the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage,” she said.
A public meeting held at Stockton on Wednesday to discuss the erosion problem heard it was nowhere near enough to address the growing problem.
Newcastle is the world’s largest coal port and was privatised in 2014 for $1.75 billion to a 50/50 joint venture between Chinese and Australian interests. Soon afterwards, the new owners revalued the business to be worth $2.4 billion.
Residents want the Port of Newcastle and state government to help fund a long-term solution to fix Stockton beach. Some have suggested a levee on each ship that leaves the harbour or on coal royalties collected by the NSW government.
Resident John Hunter said the erosion was a “symptom” of the port operation. “They’ve created the disease and we’re suffering from the symptoms,” he said.
Newcastle Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes said she believed everyone at Wednesday’s meeting was in “furious agreement” that money from the sale of the port could be used to save the beach.
The port’s spokeswoman said it provided at least $1 million each year to the NSW government for the Newcastle Port Community Contribution Fund.
Meanwhile, Hunter Water confirmed it spent more than $300,000 on preventing 5000 tonnes of rubbish from an old council garbage tip from spewing into the sea at Stockton.
The overall budget for the works is estimated to be $3 million. The landfill site, north of Corroba Oval, was exposed by erosion during heavy seas.