Commitment needed to deliver renewed plan for Stockton

02 Mar 2023

City of Newcastle is calling for a meeting of the NSW Deputy Premier's Stockton Beach Taskforce, to determine which NSW Government agencies will fund and own the sand nourishment implementation actions for managing erosion in Stockton, as discussed at a meeting with the Stockton Community Liaison Group this morning.

The draft Extended Stockton Coastal Management Program (CMP) steps out an expanded list of management actions that support the long-term strategy of mass sand nourishment outlined in the 2020 Stockton CMP, and broadens the geographical area covered to include the northern end of Stockton Beach from Meredith Street to the Port Stephens Local Government Area boundary.

The complementary actions featured in the Extended CMP are intended to prolong the benefits of mass sand nourishment.

The Deputy Premier's Stockton Beach Taskforce was established by John Barilaro in May 2020 to drive the implementation of sustainable long-term solutions to the coastal erosion issues for Stockton Beach – with a focus on sand sourcing options and pathways to seeking funding – and last met in June 2022.

Newcastle Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes said that collaboration and leadership from all levels of government is vital to delivering a solution for the Stockton community.

"Delivering the CMP is a complex process, and each action outlined in the plan needs to be championed and funded by the most appropriate agency,” Cr Nelmes said.

"It is appropriate that the NSW Government be tangibly involved in a solution for Stockton Beach, as it is their infrastructure, namely the breakwater and deepwater navigation channel of the Port of Newcastle, that has been proven as the primary cause of ongoing erosion at Stockton Beach."

Chair of the Stockton Community Liaison Group, Barbara Whitcher, called on the State Government to commit to a solution as a matter of urgency.

"The east coast lows are likely to arrive any time, and we need commitment from the State Government to solve the problem of erosion."

City of Newcastle's Executive Director Planning and Environment Michelle Bisson said mass sand nourishment remained the long-term solution to protecting the NSW Government owned Stockton Beach, and the Extended CMP is an important next step to delivering the long-term vision.

"The Extended CMP has been informed by extensive consultation with the community, as well as the findings of additional studies and investigations undertaken since the development of the 2020 CMP," Ms Bisson said.

In October 2022, the NSW Government was successful in obtaining a $6.2 million grant through the Coastal and Estuarine Risk Mitigation Program, which includes $4.7 million from the Federal Government and $1.5 million from the City of Newcastle.

NSW Public Works were appointed earlier this year to manage the project funded by the grant, which includes the delivery of the initial amenity nourishment for Stockton, studies into possible sources of mass sand from the North Arm of the Hunter River and offshore sources, as well as the environmental approvals required for mass sand nourishment – a complex process which has never before been undertaken in NSW.

Pending confirmation of the allocation of responsibility for actions, the draft Extended Stockton CMP will then be finalised ahead of public exhibition in mid-2023.