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Dredging of Ettalong Channel finally underway

The Faucon will remove 30,000 cubic metres of sand

Posted on August 30, 2023

The Faucon has landed and dredging is finally underway at Ettalong Channel, with work expected to be completed by the end of October.

McQuade Marine put the vessel Faucon to work at 5am on Friday, August 25, as it sets about removing 30,000 cubic metres of sand to create a 30-metre wide channel, both inside and on the ocean side of Half-Tide Rocks.

The channel will accommodate vessels with a 2.5 metre draft, hopefully signalling the return of the Palm Beach-Ettalong and Wagstaffe ferry service, which has been diverted to Patonga since June.

Dredged sand will be placed in the water on Ettalong Shoals, just off Ocean Beach, in line with previous dredging campaigns.

Due to the urgent nature and size of the dredge required for the deep-water channel components, the deposition of sand will be aligned with the capacity of the current sea-going dredge with future campaigns to explore the possibility of sand renourishment of Ettalong Beach.

As part of this project, measures will be put in place to protect environmentally-sensitive areas.

This will include establishing buffer areas to prevent the disturbance of sea grasses.

Member for Gosford Liesl Tesch said she had campaigned long and hard since being elected in 2017 for an adequate dredging program in the Ettalong Channel, including a long-term plan.

“Instead, the previous Government allowed this backlog to build up over 12 years, with no proactive plans in place,” she said.

“This work will take some time, depending on weather and tides, but we should have everything running by the end of October.

“The sand will go onto the Ettalong shoals and scientists are telling me it will drift gently along Ettalong, Ocean and Umina beaches.

“As soon as I heard the ferry was (being diverted) because of the tides, alarm bells started ringing.”

Tesch said with no plans in place for dredging, Government officials worked hard to get the appropriate permissions through as soon as possible.

“The team has been fantastic and now we have a seafaring vessel out there and will get that channel open as quickly as we possibly can,” she said.

Tesch said Transport Minister Jo Haylen had taken a proactive approach and had committed to developing a 10-year plan.

“This will ensure that all necessary assessments and approvals are in place for future dredging campaigns to occur in a fast manner,” she said.

Member for Gosford Liesl Tesch and NSW Maritime Executive Director Mark Hutchings outline the dredging plan at Ettalong Beach

NSW Maritime Executive Director Mark Hutchings was on hand at Ettalong Beach to see dredging get underway.

“We will be removing about 30,000 cubic metres of sand and are planning to have a 30-metre wide channel so we can get the ferries running again,” he said.

“We ask people to please be safe if they’re coming in and out of the channel in recreational or commercial vessels.

“There will be clearly defined exclusion zones around the dredge.

“As it sucks the sand up it will be putting it on the shoals at Ettalong and, as we know from previous campaigns, that sand will move to replenish the beach.

“There has been a lot of work behind the scenes to make sure the dredging doesn’t impact the environment and we’ve been working with other agencies and councils to finally make this happen.”


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