Frequently Asked Questions

We have developed some frequently asked questions about erosion at Stockton Beach.

Stockton Beach Erosion

Numerous historical investigations and subsequent strategies have been developed to understand and manage the coastal processes that result in beach erosion and shoreline recession at Stockton. The work undertaken for the Stockton CMP 2020 reviewed the outputs of the historical investigations. The 2020 analysis now provides the most comprehensive review and consolidates all previous studies to date. 

Previous investigations include:

Stockton Beach is managed by multiple agencies and organisations.

City of Newcastle manages the beach south of Meredith Street to the Stockton Breakwall, while the Department of Industry (Crown Lands), Hunter Water Corporation, Defence Housing Australia and Family and Community Housing have responsibility for the coastline north of Meredith Street to the Port Stephens LGA. 

As part of the development of the Stockton CMP 2021, we are collaborating with all identified stakeholders to achieve an integrated solution that provides benefit for the entire Stockton Bight against predicted coastal hazards, plus complements mass sand nourishment identified for South Stockton (Stockton CMP 2020).

The Mission Australia Early Learning Centre at Barrie Crescent was permanently closed on 3 September 2019 based on expert advice that the site was no longer safe due to ongoing erosion. This was 10 months short of when the childcare centre was due to close at the Barrie Crescent location due to the end of Mission Australia’s lease and the impending demolition of the site.

The building has been demolished and there is ongoing work to safely clear the site. Given the age of the building, some asbestos has been identified and safely removed in accordance with legislation and best practice.

Once the site has been cleared and deemed safe it will be reinstated as public space.

CN and the NSW Government agreed to jointly fund Stage 1 of a beach nourishment project for the southern section of Stockton Beach to restore amenity in the short term and, as a pilot project, inform our long-term management program. Details of the project were refined with representatives of the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment (DPIE).

Stage 1 delivered approximately 3,600 m3 (5,500 tonnes) of sand and was completed in December 2019.

Replacement sand was sourced from a commercial quarry and delivered in trucks to be profiled on the beach south of Lexie's Cafe accessway in front of the Stockton Holiday Park. Sand was certified as ‘virgin excavated natural material’ and selected to best match the particle size of sand already on the beach.

The project included pre and post sand placement transport monitoring and preliminary results have shown movement of the placed sand into the nearshore zone forming a sand bank a few weeks after placement. This sand movement has created a shallow beach frontage and appears to have reduced the impact of this erosion event.

The project cost was $350,000 funded 50% by CN and 50% by the NSW Government.

One-tonne sandbags walls were established in 2019 in part of the worst erosion areas at Stone Street and Griffith Avenue. Sandbags are emergency works and are designed as a temporary measure to protect the existing Mitchell Street sea wall and Griffith Road from future failure caused by ongoing erosion.

The works are short-term protection and are monitored and maintained as necessary.

The NSW Government approved two grant applications for 50 per cent of the funding for emergency sandbagging works in 2019 and the demolition of the former childcare centre.

CoastSnap is an initiative of the Department of Primary Industries and Environment (DPIE) and the Water Research Laboratory (UNSW Sydney) to collect images from the public which help monitor changes on NSW beaches.

Three CoastSnap photography cradles have been installed at Stone Street, Mitchell Street seawall stairway (closest to Pembroke Street) and near the Surf Lifesaving Club tower.

By visiting these locations regularly, taking a photo and sharing using the hashtag shown on the sign or submitting via email to members of the community can contribute to the monitoring data available for developing actions.

Coastal Management Plan

The Stockton CMP 2021 will update the Stockton CMP 2020 to include the coastline north of Meredith Street to the Port Stephens Local Government Area (LGA) boundary. This section of the beach was not included in the 2020 document because, following a number of extreme weather events, City of Newcastle was directed by the Hon. Shelley Hancock, Minister of Local Government to fast track the delivery of a CMP for Stockton that targeted the beach south of Meredith Street to the Stockton Breakwall.

Proposed erosion management options to be included in the Stockton CMP 2021 will complement the current goal of mass sand nourishment, outlined in the Stockton CMP 2020. These will be assessed in terms of their economic and technical feasibility to obtain agreement on a suitable strategy from all affected northern landholders. Landholders include Hunter Water Corporation, Defence Housing Australia, Family and Community Services and Department of Industry (Crown Lands).

The actions in the Stockton CMP 2020 will not change and will be incorporated into the Stockton CMP 2021.

City of Newcastle, along with all coastal councils in New South Wales, is required to prepare a CMP under the Coastal Management Act 2016 (Division 2 Section 14). The Coastal Management Act provides for the integrated management of the coast, consistent with the principles of ecologically sustainable development, for the social, cultural, and economic wellbeing of New South Wales.

There are 5 Stages involved in the development of a CMP. City of Newcastle has commenced Stage 3 fin the process to develop the Stockton CMP 2021. This stage is likely to run from February to October 2021.

Stage 3 will involve an assessment of potential management options. To adequately assess the potential management options, City of Newcastle must identify them and then evaluate them considering feasibility, viability, and acceptability to stakeholders. Potential management options that are deemed feasible will have a business plan developed to identify how they will be funded and implemented. The business plan will also identify which organisation/stakeholder is responsible for implementation.

Stage 4 of the process is the preparation of the Coastal Management Program. This stage combines all the information generated through Stages 1 – 3 to create a document ready for certification. City of Newcastle is working towards the development of a Draft Stockton CMP 2021 by December 2021.

Agreement on a suitable strategy is required from all affected northern landholders prior to submitting the CMP for Certification to NSW Government. The Department of Planning, Industry & Environment (DPIE) review and assess the CMP before it is submitted to the responsible Minister for certification.

Stage 5 of a CMP is the implementation of the actions identified.

City of Newcastle has worked with the Deputy Premier’s Stockton Beach Taskforce to move forward with various management actions outlined in the Stockton CMP 2020.

In December 2020, Deputy Premier and Minister for Regional NSW John Barilaro chaired a meeting of the Taskforce and announced his government had applied for an offshore exploration licence. This means geologists are now able to examine potential sand sources which could be used to remediate Stockton Beach in a safe and effective manner. The Deputy Premier announced in July 2021 that this investigatory work had identified 3 potential locations for sourcing sand.

City of Newcastle has begun works at Barrie Crescent section of Stockton Beach on a temporary protection structure. The structure, compiled of Kyowa Rock Bags, will offer protection until such time as mass sand nourishment is achieved. These works will be completed in May 2021.

Other maintenance and protection works are also ongoing to help maintain access to the beach and manage severe weather events.

  • March 2018: The Stockton Community Liaison Group meets for the first time to seek a long-term solution to erosion at Stockton Beach.
  • February 2020: Minister for Local Government, Shelley Hancock, directs City of Newcastle to prepare a CMP for Stockton as a matter of priority given significant community concern about ongoing coastal erosion. 
  • May 2020: The draft Stockton CMP 2020 is put on public exhibition for four weeks and the community has their say.
  • June 2020: City of Newcastle delivers the draft Stockton CMP 2020 for review and certification under the Coastal Management Act 2016.
  • August 2020: The Stockton CMP 2020 is certified by the State Government and Newcastle becomes the first Local Government in NSW to have a coastal management program confirmed under the new coastal management framework.
  • December 2020: Work begins on the Stockton CMP 2021, which will include the coastline north of Meredith Street to the Port Stephens Local Government Area boundary.
  • December 2021: City of Newcastle plans to finalise the draft Stockton CMP 2021 and submit it to the NSW Government.

Erosion Management Options

Beach nourishment (also referred to as beach replenishment, or sand nourishment) is the artificial placement of sand to improve beach amenity and/or increase protection of coastal assets.

Small scale beach nourishment projects can have short-term benefits by returning amenity to eroded sections or may be part of an ongoing coastal management program.

Stage 3 of a CMP looks to comprise and assess all potential management options. Management options include various ways to manage the changing coastline against coastal hazards such as erosion, wave inundation and sea level rise.

The certified Stockton CMP 2020 identified that Mass Sand Nourishment is the preferred management solution however additional management options need to be identified to support this. These options will be outlined in the Stockton CMP 2021. 

Four management options are currently being considered as part of the Stockton CMP 2021 to support the Mass Sand Nourishment. 

CN initially started with a list of 16 potential management options. These were assessed against criteria with each option considered for its ability to assist in providing an adequate buffer against coastal hazards, assist in providing for social values including beach amenity, work in with the coastal environment and be accepted by stakeholders.

Following the filter assessment, the Stockton CMP 2021 will review four potential management schemes via a Feasibility Assessment which forms part of Stage 3 in the development of a CMP.

NSW Government legislation restricts the City to undertaking short to medium term actions only as prescribed in the approved Newcastle Coastal Zone Management Plan 2018 (NCZMP).

No, existing NSW legislation and regulations do not permit offshore sand extraction. While other Australian States permit offshore sand extraction NSW does not permit this activity.

Respective NSW government agencies are investigating offshore sand extraction which the City expects will clarify the changes to existing laws and approvals required.

CN is continuing to prepare the Stockton Coastal Management Program 2021 which will outline the long-term strategy for management of the coast in a coordinated manner.

Taking sand from offshore and using it to replenish the beach is seen as one possible long-term solution to Stockton's ongoing erosion issues. However, this can only be done with the permission of the NSW Government.

Through the CMP process, CN will continue to investigate all potential sources of sand that might form a long-term sand nourishment strategy as part of managing the ongoing challenges of coastal erosion at Stockton.

Such options include sand transfer from other sections of Stockton Beach or sources in relative proximity to Stockton Beach, importing sand from other suitable deposits as well as offshore sand extraction.

The City also collaborates with stakeholders and land managers who have responsibility and control of part of the coast not under CN's management.