The State Government is standing firm, claiming it can’t take responsibility for sand nourishment works at Stockton Beach, despite another taskforce meeting with the Deputy Premier.
The City of Newcastle insists it’s not on them either, but New South Wales says it can’t apply for a sand mining licence, because it’s the mining regulator.
Offshore sand is considered a mineral product, meaning separate exploration and mining licences are required for the project, though an exploration licence and a suitable sources of sand have already been identified and resolved.
But the Stockton community remains frustrated by the delays, with the beach having been lashed this year, following large storms and heavy swells with the La Niña weather event.
Stockton Community Liaison Group Chair Barbara Whitcher says the community just wants the Government to get a move on.
“I really think that the Deputy Premier could be much more supportive,” she said. “He did say that the State has contributed nearly a million dollars towards a solution for Stockton Beach, but Newcastle City Council and the Hunter Water Board have been putting in massive amounts.”
“The NSW Government has enormous resources. They’ve been trying to put the responsibility onto a council.
“I’m assuming this will happen with all councils up and down the coast, where there are other areas that are facing climate change challenges, which we have on top of this other major problem of the breakwall.”
Council is set to meet with the Hunter and Central Coast Development Corporation, in hopes to resolve the conflict of interest and come up with a solution.
If the nourishment plan gets off the ground, 2.4 million cubic metres of sand will initially be collected and used to restore the shoreline.
The Deputy Premier’s Office says the Government is committed to finding a solution, though it’s understood the dispute over responsibility for the mining license stretches back more than two years.
Ms Whitcher says the legislation could need to change, when it comes to mining for the sake of coastal restoration.
“This has been known now for years,” she said. “It’s an issue that we’ve been fighting for a long time.”
“If it was an easy thing for a council to do, it would’ve been done. The issue is that Stockton has an urgent situation now, but there are going also to be other coastal areas that could benefit.”