Coastal Hazards

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Photo: Beach erosion in the 1970s removed virtually all beach sand from Bar Beach exposing the bedrock.

Coastal hazards are natural processes which expose coastal areas to certain risks such as potential property damage and environmental degradation. Coastal hazards are:

  • beach erosion - the offshore movement of sand from the beach during a storm event
  • shoreline recession - the landward movement of the shoreline over time due to a net loss of sand and sediment
  • coastal lake or water course entance stability - the tendenacy for entrances to close, reopen or form new openings
  • tidal inundation - the flooding of land by tidal action under average conditions
  • coastal inundation - Storm-related flooding of coastal lands (storm surge) and wave run-up
  • coastal cliff or slope instability

Managing Coastal Hazards

​The Newcastle Coastal Zone Management Plan 2018 (CZMP) adopted by Council in November 2016 prescribes the short and medium term actions permissable by City of Newcastle and other stakeholders to manage identified coastal hazards. 

Council also endorsed the Newcastle Coastal Zone Hazard and Management Studies.

The Newcastle CZMP has two parts; Stockton and South of the Harbour

Managing Coastal Hazards at Stockton

Stockton Beach has a long history of erosion and recession. A number of studies (listed in the document library) have been undertaken to inform the management of Stockton beach.
Modelling undertaken by DHI Water and Environment for the Stockton Beach Coastal Processes Study indicated that the breakwaters at the Hunter River entrance have interrupted the flow of sand from Nobbys north to Stockton Beach.
50 year erosion hazard lines were identified in the Stockton Beach Coastal Processes Study, and these lines have been adopted by Council for planning and development assessment purposes.
The Stockton Beach Sand Scoping and Funding Feasibility Study identified potential sources of sand for beach nourishment activities. The study indicated that the acquisition of clean dredging spoils from the Newcastle port would be the most favourable option for the nourishment of Stockton Beach. As outlined below, Council continues to work with the Port of Newcastle to ensure that clean dredged sand is placed on Stockton Beach.
The findings of the above studies will be considered during the development of the Newcastle Coastal Management Plan (CMP).

Management actions undertaken at Stockton include coastal protection works and repairs, dune revegetation and maintenance and liaison with the Port of Newcastle to support a maintenance cycle of dredging and replacing sand at Stockton beach.

Two seawalls have been constructed to help protect Stockton from erosion:

  • the Mitchell St rock seawall, constructed in 1989
  • the SLSC seawall was first constructed in 1996 as a sandbag seawall. Maintenance was undertaken on this seawall in 2010 and it was converted to a rock seawall in 2017

The City also works with the Port of Newcastle and NSW Government to undertake beach nourishment activities on Stockton Beach. In 2009, the Port of Newcastle dredged approximately 130,000m3 of clean marine sand from the mouth of the Hunter River, and placed the sand offshore of Stockton Beach. This project was a hugely successful partnership between the Port of Newcastle, NSW Government and City of Newcastle.
The Port of Newcastle continues to place clean sand (derived from regular maintenance dredges of the mouth of the river) offshore of Stockton Beach.

Large swells in recent years resulted in significant beach erosion, shoreline recession and loss of amenity and access to Stockton Beach. For more information visit Stockton Erosion Response.

Managing Coastal Hazards South of the Harbour

Priority management actions for coastal hazards south of the harbour south relate to protection and community safety affected by inundation during storm events and undertaking works to address cliff/slope instability risks in priority areas.

Coastal Hazards and Development Assessment

In August 2010, the Department of Planning released the NSW Coastal Planning Guideline:  Adapting to Sea Level Rise . This document provides guidance on how sea level rise and its impacts (including coastal erosion and flooding) are to be considered in land use planning and development assessment in NSW.

As outlined above, Council has also adopted the 50 year erosion hazard lines identified in the Stockton Beach Coastal Processes Study. These hazard lines are therefore considered during development assessment.