Taskforce looks to Hunter River for Stockton sand as City upgrades coastal protection works

15 Oct 2020

Following a meeting of the Deputy Premier’s Stockton Beach Taskforce, City of Newcastle will meet with the Hunter and Central Coast Development Corporation, and Regional NSW to explore the possibility of using sand from the south arm of the Hunter River to replenish Stockton Beach.

Chair of the Stockton Community Liaison Group Barbara Whitcher spoke in support of the initiative at the meeting earlier this week.

“It’s encouraging to hear through the Taskforce the potential for relocating sand from the Hunter River to Stockton for short-term sand replenishment. This news was received well at today’s Stockton Community Liaison Group Meeting and we look forward to further updates.”

This progress is in keeping with The City’s work to access the initial sand for a beach nourishment campaign as approved in the Stockton Coastal Management Program 2020.

The news from the Taskforce meeting also coincides with a decision from the City to use ‘Kyowa Rock Bags’ as emergency works in place of existing sandbagging at the northern end of Stockton Beach.

The City’s investment in this technology is expected to offset the need for ongoing emergency response at Barrie Crescent and for the two buried terminal protection structures (Stone Street and Griffith Avenue) as approved in the Stockton Coastal Management Program 2020, saving the community $2.45 million and buying time for the Taskforce to achieve mass sand nourishment.

The rock bags are a patented flexible mesh product used for erosion protection which are more durable and sturdier than traditional sandbags. Initially, they will be assembled off site at the Ballast Ground in Stockton, before being installed at the Barrie Crescent section of beach.

The bags will provide up to 15 years protection which allows for a window of time in which mass offshore sand nourishment can be achieved, as outlined in the Stockton Coastal Management Program 2020.

Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes said the Taskforce was making positive progress on achieving mass sand nourishment for Stockton Beach.

“It’s encouraging that the Taskforce is making headway on finding suitable sand sources for mass nourishment at Stockton Beach and we’re optimistic about the potential Hunter River south arm opportunity.

“Since June last year City of Newcastle has spent more than $3 million on emergency works associated with protecting coastal assets and property from erosion at Stockton Beach, including sandbagging and safety measures.

City of Newcastle’s Acting CEO Ken Liddell said that in the meantime, the rock bags will be a significant improvement on the sandbags currently in place.

“The innovative rock bag technology to be used at Stockton Beach will provide a range of benefits, not the least to provide further protection for the community and offsetting ongoing reactive emergency, and capital works costs.

“Upgrading the emergency protection to rock bags will provide greater protection to coastal properties while allowing City of Newcastle to reinstate a passive recreational area at Barrie Crescent Reserve,” Mr Liddell said.

The rock bags will be placed in the same location as existing sandbags, along the Barrie Crescent frontage from the northern end of the Mitchel Street seawall at Stone Street to Griffiths Avenue road extension.

City of Newcastle has also confirmed it will complete three coastal management programs (CMP) in 2021, including an updated Stockton CMP, a Newcastle Southern Beaches CMP taking into account the area between the southern Harbour Breakwater to Glenrock, and an Hunter Estuary CMP completed in partnership with Port Stephens and Maitland councils. The revised Stockton CMP will take into account the roughly three kilometre section of coastline north of Meredith Street not included in the Stockton CMP 2020, and include additional studies which were not possible to be completed prior to the NSW Government’s shortened 2020 deadline.

Community engagement on the CMPs is expected to commence in early 2021