THE state government has flatly refused to accept responsibility for Stocktons worsening beach erosion crisis.
In a letter to Newcastle MP Tim Crakanthorp this week, Environment Minister Gabrielle Uptons chief of staff, Kevin Wilde, outlined the governments position on the erosion problem. Addressing the coastal erosion issues at Stockton is the responsibility of Newcastle City Council, he wrote.
Mr Wilde went further to state that Stockton did not meet the criteria to be classified a coastal erosion hotspot that could qualify it for additional funding. A hotspot is defined as a location where five or more houses or a public road are at immediate risk. Stockton beach does not meet this definition.
Stocktons only childcare centre is about a metre off becoming the latest victim of the suburbs erosion woes, with locals warning it is a matter of when and not if its playground will start to crumble into the ocean. Powerful swell in recent weeks saw an old rubbish tip exposed on the shoreline, near Corroba Oval.
Speaking in parliament on Tuesday afternoon, Mr Crakanthorp accused the minister of ignoring the problem that has seen tonnes of sand striped from the popular coastal strip. With the government prioritising spending $2.5 billion on knocking down and rebuilding stadiums in Sydney, over protecting coastal communities like Stockton, it is clear just how out of touch the Liberal government has become.
In December, the council removed Stockton from its coastal management plan, which proposes measures to address erosion along the coastline and is submitted to the state government to secure money from an $82 million funding pool.
It came after the state governments Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH) refused to sign off on an earlier version of the plan, which did address the Stockton erosion problems.
A council representative told a public meeting last year that OEH had indicated one of the key issues it had was the $30 million cost of an artificial headland for Stockton, the preferred solution of council, local campaigners and experts.
According to Mr Wilde, the plan was rejected because it did not identify a viable funding source or address the management of the impact of the works on the coastline.
Stockton Community Action Group spokesman Keith Craig described the response as very disappointing. Its clear that the government just doesnt want to put any money into this problem, he said. Stockton is in more dire straits and has lost more sand than any of the 15 identified erosion hotspots.