Offshore dredging the only solution to erosion at Stockton beach, report finds

Posted May 14, 2020

A plan to protect and restore Newcastle's Stockton Beach has gone on public display, assessing 13 options to replenish the eroded coastline.

Key points:

  • A plan to solve Stockton Beach’s erosion problem has gone on public display.
  • It shows $19 million is needed over five years to repair sea walls and deliver 50,000 cubic metres of sand.
  • $21 million is needed for additional sand nourishment and $12 million every decade for maintenance.

The plan revealed that 112,000 cubic metres of sand was lost each year from Stockton Beach, far more than previously thought.

Of the 13 options assessed in the Coastal Management Program (CMP), only two were considered viable.

Both relied on restoring the beach to a width of about 40 metres mainly through the use of sand sourced offshore, which is illegal and would require approval from the NSW Government.

A cabin sits just centimetres away from the the edge of an eroded beach.
Wild weather stripped Newcastle's Stockton Beach of tonnes of sand earlier this year.(Supplied: Save Stockton Beach)

The plan estimated that between 1.8 to 4.5 million cubic metres of sand would be needed to restore Stockton Beach, followed by maintenance campaigns every decade, making marine offshore sand the only viable source.

A cost benefit analysis estimated that would cost $21 million, followed by $12 million in maintenance every decade.

The Deputy Premier, John Barilaro, was leading a State Government taskforce investigating the use of offshore sand, and vowed to find a long term solution to the problem.

In the meantime, the plan recommended an immediate sand nourishment program of 50,000 cubic metres from land-based or other permissible sand sources, and essential protection works to the ends of existing seawalls.

That was expected to cost $9 million in the first year, and $19 million over five years.

The Stockton CMP area stretches from the northern harbour breakwall to Meredith Street.

'Wicked' problem for Newcastle

Simon Jones, from the Stockton Community Liaison Group, said the report was the culmination of years of lobbying by locals, horrified to see their beach disappearing.

Newcastle Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes told councillors on Tuesday night that she was pleased the plan focused on the community's wish to retain the beach.

"Even going back to reports before I was on council, any intervention was around the $30 or $40 million mark," Cr Nelmes said.

"This plan is no different, so to actually have the hybrid solution that's been worked through with the community in line with their wishes is a solution to what is well described as a very wicked problem for our city," she said.

The plan is on public exhibition for a month, before it is sent to the state government by the end of June.