Application for sand source exploration licence a step closer to returning a sandy beach to Stockton

09 Dec 2020

City of Newcastle welcomes the NSW Government’s move to apply for an offshore exploration licence that will allow for the investigation of a suitable sand source to put sand back on the beach at Stockton.

Deputy Premier and Minister for Regional NSW John Barilaro chaired a Stockton Beach Taskforce meeting at City of Newcastle’s Administration Centre today and discussed how the exploration licence would allow for the examination a potential source of sand needed to remediate Stockton Beach.

Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes said Deputy Premier Barilaro’s announcement was a significant win for the Stockton community, with the NSW Government prioritising a viable solution to coastal erosion.

“If approved, the licence will allow exploration work to be carried out by geologists to determine if an identified source of sand off the coast of Stockton is suitable,” Cr Nelmes said.

“The NSW Government’s commitment to identifying a suitable sand source is meaningful progress toward ensuring our community can once again enjoy the amenity of a sandy beach, where coastal assets are protected.

“Since the Stockton Taskforce had its inaugural meeting in June we have seen a genuine and cooperative approach to reaching a solution to ongoing coastal erosion.

“The Taskforce has cut red tape and overcome regulatory hurdles across various government departments to enable a path to source suitable sand to replenish the beach.

“The Stockton Coastal Management Program was informed by our community and has mass sand nourishment as its cornerstone, so this news shows how collaboration between Local and State Government can achieve positive outcomes for the environment and community.”

“I thank the Deputy Premier for his leadership in resolving the complex erosion issues at Stockton with both short and long-term solutions.

The Taskforce meeting was also informed that City of Newcastle has completed the first comprehensive scientific study of how sand moves in and around the Stockton Bight.

The Stockton Bight Sand Movement Study will contribute to the 2021 review of the Stockton Coastal Management Program, which is being updated to include the area north of Meredith Street to the Local Government Boundary. Previous studies have been confined to the southern section of the Bight.

This investigation fills an important missing piece in understanding the beach’s complex coastal processes.

Cr Nelmes said the Sand Movement Study is key to developing management actions that complement the mass sand nourishment strategy for Stockton Beach.

“The study provides City of Newcastle and Stockton Bight’s various landholders with the critical information and understanding needed to make evidence-based decisions on coastal management options for the area to the north of Meredith Street,” Cr Nelmes said.

“Next year City of Newcastle, in consultation with stakeholders, will update the Stockton CMP to include coastal management options for the area of the beach north of Meredith Street to the Port Stephens Local Government Area boundary.

“The Stockton CMP 2021 key actions will complement the mass sand nourishment proposed for Stockton Beach and will be assessed in terms of their economic and technical feasibility, to obtain agreement on a suitable strategy from all affected northern landholders.

“The actions outlined in the Stockton Coastal Management Program 2020 will not change and will be incorporated into the expanded 2021 Stockton CMP.

“The work completed to date, in partnership with the community, has determined what we need to do now and in the long-term to ensure we can manage Stockton Beach for future generations.

“We will continue to work with the NSW Government to deliver a mechanism to get sand onto Stockton Beach.”

City of Newcastle Manager of Assets and Projects Joanne Rigby said the study provides the first full analysis of the Bight’s ‘sand budget’, which maps historical sand volume changes from Nobbys Headland to Birubi Headland to show the rates and direction of sand movement.

“This is essential to assessing how each potential coastal management option will impact the behaviour of the entire Bight,” Ms Rigby said.

“The study confirms that the natural pattern of erosion experienced by Stockton Beach is exacerbated by the Newcastle Harbour breakwaters and navigational channel, which combine to create a physical barrier to natural sand movement.

“Presently an average of 34,000 cubic metres per year is restored to Stockton Beach by the dredging of sand from the entrance channel and 36,500 cubic metres per year is accumulated at Nobbys.

“The Port of Newcastle’s David Allan dredge picks sand up in the harbour entrance and deposits it offshore from Stockton Beach.

“Currently the rate of loss along the southern section of the Beach is estimated at 112,000 cubic metres per year. Prior to the formalisation of river entrance, it is estimated that 100,000 cubic metres of sand passed Nobbys Headland.

“As a result, the overall northerly loss of sand is a key management consideration of the Stockton CMP.”

City of Newcastle will work with landowners and the community in the new year regarding management actions. The Stockton Sand Movement Study can be accessed here.