Posted March 22, 2020
Newcastle MP Tim Crakanthorp has urged the state government to allow sand dredged from the Hunter River for the construction of the proposed Newcastle Gas Terminal project to be redirected to Stockton Beach.
Final approval for the $589 million project, whcih has already been declared a state significant development, is expected by the end of the year.
The project will require dredging of the Hunter River's south channel, which is estimated to contain over a million cubic metres of high-quality sand.
Approval already exists to dump the sand at sea, but there are calls to redirect a significant amount of the sand to Stockton Beach.
In addition to Mr Crakanthorp, the idea also has the support of the Maritime Union of Australia.
Mr Crakanthorp has written to Planning Minister Rob Stokes about the possibility of amending the existing dredging approval to allow the sand to be placed on the beach.
He has also requested a meeting with the minister and asked the minister to appoint the Hunter Central Coast Development Corporation as the lead body to work with key stakeholders to seek appropriate approvals.
"It is critical that all options are considered to address erosion at Stockton, so we can't let this possibility pass us by," he said.
"This river sand would only be a one-off, but it's a good initial amount while the offshore sand solution is progressed simultaneously.
"While offshore sand is what we ultimately need, any opportunity to get sand back on to Stockton Beach needs to be embraced and investigated."
A spokeswoman for Planning Minister Rob Stokes said the minister was open to exploring any suggestions to solve the critical erosion issue at Stockton Beach.
"The best option remains for council to expedite its Coastal Management Program to find a long-term solution," she said.
MUA Newcastle branch secretary Glen Williams previously told the Newcastle Herald that the Hunter River sand would have naturally joined Stockton Beach before the port was built and offered a fast and cost-effective solution to address the erosion crisis.
"As part of the gas terminal development, extensive dredging of river sand will be undertaken, providing the raw material that could be used to save Stockton from this growing erosion crisis," he said.
"We are reliably informed that the sand that needs to be dredged for this project was previously tested as part of the T4 planning process, with experts finding large reserves of uncontaminated sand that could be used to safely restock the beach."
More than a million cubic metres of clean sand was dredged from the river's south arm in 2011.
Johnny Madsen, of RN Dredging, said he made enquiries about dumping the sand off Stockton Beach rather than at sea but was told it would take two years to get permission.