Greens candidate for the seat of Newcastle John Mackenzie has announced a commitment of $21.2 million for beach nourishment to repair erosion at Stockton Beach, and a permanent ban on oil and gas exploration off the Newcastle coastline, as part of the Newcastle Greens “Coastal Protection Platform”. The Coastal Protection Platform is one of the Greens flagship campaigns for the seat of Newcastle at the May 18 Federal election.
The Greens are calling on Newcastle candidates from both major parties to match these commitments to strong action to protect and invest in Newcastle’s pristine coastal environment and to build its resilience to the impacts of climate change.
The Platform outlines a number of key initiatives, including:
· Support for Newcastle Council to expedite the Coastal Management Program, including ongoing funding for the Stockton Community Liaison Group (SCLG)
· $21.2 million to repair Stockton Beach erosion through fully funding beach nourishment works and investigation into the construction of an artificial headland
· Place a moratorium on seismic testing off the Newcastle coast
· Halt all oil and gas exploration off the Newcastle coastline
· Prevent new offshore oil and gas exploration permits
· Remove toxic plastics from our oceans
In announcing the commitment, Greens Candidate for Newcastle Cr John Mackenzie said, “The community of Stockton have waited long enough for action to address the very well-known issues of beach erosion and shoreline recession. This funding commitment is to deliver sand replenishment and ongoing beach nourishment, which is the preferred community and technical option to address coastal hazards and improve beach amenity.”
Cr John Mackenzie said, “The Stockton community are rightfully angry about how long this has taken. We don’t need more studies – we had the Newcastle Coastal Zone Hazards Study by BMT WBM in 2014, which was updated just last year in the Council’s coastal management plan. But before this we had the Stockton Beach Coastline Hazard Study from the Department of Land and Water Conservation in 1995, Newcastle Coastline Hazard Definition Study in 1998, the Shifting sands at Stockton Beach report by Umwelt and SMEC Pty in 2002, and DHI Stockton Coastline Management Studies in 2006, 2009 and 2011.”
Cr John Mackenzie said, “Right now, the issue of coastal erosion in Stockton is severe and urgent. While the breakwaters are essential for a viable Newcastle Port, they prevent the natural flow of sand along the coast, trapping it on the Nobbys side of the breakwater. This results in a failure to replenish the sand on Stockton and the beach has been eroding several metres a year, and after years of inaction and delay, the situation is now at a critical point. The onset of climate change is only exacerbating the risks of beach loss at Stockton.”
“The Greens preferred option is for protection works is to support the initial sand nourishment program by constructing an artificial headland or groyne. This option has the benefit of stopping the northerly drift of sand, which means that the sand would become trapped between the northern breakwater and the artificial headland/groyne, and would protect the southern end of Stockton Beach.”
“However, I do respect the important progress made by the Council in the development of the Coastal Management Program in the consideration of solutions. So rather than propose the headland prior to their final assessment, we are committing to funding that will expedite the completion of that Program under the NSW Coastal Management Act 2016.”