CITY of Newcastle's senior coastal scientist, tasked with overseeing a plan to identify a long-term solution for Stockton's erosion crisis, has quit.
The Newcastle Herald understands council's senior strategist environment, Mark Manning, resigned last week.
Mr Manning's shock departure, just three months out from when the Coastal Management Plan (CMP) is due to be submitted to the NSW government, has left many questioning what caused him to leave.
A City of Newcastle spokesman declined to comment on Mr Manning's departure or what prompted it.
"City of Newcastle does not comment on internal staffing matters," he said. The Newcastle Herald was unable to contact Mr Manning.
It's understood council's environment asset program coordinator Karenne Jurd will now oversee the CMP.
Fifth-generation Stockton resident Lucas Gresham said it was curious that Mr Manning would leave at such a critical time in the coastal management process.
The local businessman, who has been a vocal advocate for a long-term solution to the erosion crisis, questioned what it would mean for the CMP.
"There is no doubt he must have been under a lot of pressure," Mr Gresham said. "This certainly doesn't give a great deal of confidence that he has left, you have to question what is going on behind the scenes."
Mr Gresham said he was at a Stockton Community Liaison Group (SCLG) meeting last month where council was questioned about how much of a NSW government grant it had spent to assist in putting the CMP together.
"The answer given was that they had only spent $8000 of the $200,000 grant," Mr Gresham said. "If they are understaffed hopefully some of that is being spent on assisting with manpower."
In February, Local Government Minister Shelley Hancock told City of Newcastle it must complete the CMP by June 30, bringing forward the deadline by six months.
The new deadline has raised serious community concern about the quality of the multi-stage plan and City of Newcastle's ability to fully complete it. A City of Newcastle spokesman confirmed that the deadline change would mean the plan would be completed on a "condensed scale".
At last month's SCLG meeting, Mr Manning said clarification had been sought from Ms Hancock's office on how the plan was to be completed in such a short timeframe, but he told the meeting that remained "unexplained".
A City of Newcastle spokesman said it was working "collaboratively" with the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment to deliver the CMP on time.
- Do you know more? Donna.firstname.lastname@example.org
- Research reveals erosion twice as bad as previously predicted
- Sand dredged from Hunter River could save Stockton beach
- Deputy Premier says Stockton beach above politics
- Minister commits to consultation for Stockton solution despite new deadline
- Watch the video: Relentless erosion closes Stockton beach
- Erosion wipes out Stockton's only childcare centre
- Community meeting told Stockton beach losing a metre a year
- Mission Australia's storm damaged Stockton early learning centre
- Childcare centre's future under cloud in erosion saga
- Childcare centre forced to close temporarily due to beach erosion threat
- Council back to drawing board over long-term solution for Stockton erosion
- Playground of Stockton's Mission Australia early learning centre set to be relocated as a result of erosion threat
- Fears childcare centre could crumble into the sea
- Stockton solution moves forward with meeting
- Garbage tip washing into the sea at Stockton
- State government handballs responsibility for Stockton beach
- 2017: Exposed mine shaft shows Stockton beach's erosion problem needs 'urgent' solution
- 2016: Newcastle lord mayor Nuatali Nelmes suggests 'underground breakwall'
- 2016: Worst erosion in memory leaves Stockton beach exposed to next storm
- 2014: Dangerous erosion on Stockton Beach
- 2013: Stockton beach erosion | photos, video
While you're with us, did you know the Newcastle Herald offers breaking news alerts, daily email newsletters and more? Keep up to date with all the local news - sign up here