Workers on site at the former Stockton rubbish dump where 5000 tonnes of household garbage has been stockpiled after it was exposed to the sea by worsening erosion. Picture: Jonathan CarrollEARLIER this week the NSW Liberal National government announced they would be allocating up to $1 million in funding to the rehabilitation of the exposed tip site on North Stockton Beach, but state member for Newcastle Tim Crakanthorp believes they have come “too late to the party”.
While the majority of the long-closed council landfill site– which sent household rubbish,car parts and asbestosspewing into the sea after a section collapsed in high tides last January – is located on land owned by Hunter Water, June storms have exposed a new area under the responsibility of NSW Crown Lands.
Crown Lands funding ‘late to the party’: Crakanthorp LANDFILL: Workers on site at the former Stockton rubbish dump where 5000 tonnes of household garbage has been stockpiled after it was exposed to the sea by worsening erosion. Picture: Jonathan Carroll
CONCERN: Opposition spokeswoman for the environment Penny Sharpe (centre), with Port Stephen MP Kate Washington, Newcastle MP Tim Crakanthorp and concerned Stockton locals. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers
ON THE EDGE: The Stockton Mission Australia Early Learning Centre at risk of falling into the sea. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers
UNDER THREAT: Huge swell has stripped tonnes of sand from Stockton beach. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers.
TAKING STOCKO: Beach-goers fear for Stockton beach as erosion continues to take hold of the shoreline, reigniting calls for new work. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers
State member for Newcastle, Tim Crakanthorp.
Crakanthorp also likened the“disconnect between the two government bodies” to the drawing of two lines between“colonial states”, and said he was shocked there was little to no communication when Hunter Water’s remediation began.
“It’s pretty outrageous that [Hunter Water and Crown Lands]didn’t combine their efforts in the first place, the first large storm we have come through exposes the tip again,” Crakanthorp said. “It’s an abrogation of their responsibilities from January not to have done it.”
“There needs to be efforts now for the full site to be remediated, so now both parties need a coordinated plan to remove the waste, not Hunter Water doing their thing and Crown Lands not really doing their own thing.
“All of this is like when colonial states make borders in certain countries. They draw lines straight down the middle of various community groups, and half gets looked after and half hasn’t. Crown Lands should now follow Hunter Water’s positive example.”
Community advocate Simon Jones.
Read more:Crown Lands ordered to take action on tip site pollution
Crakanthorp’ssentiment of “too late” and “not enough” is shared by manyStockton locals, including Save Stockton Beach’s key organiser Simon Jones, who has been calling for action to fight the erosion for years.
He believes the“band-aid solutions” currently being offered up by state bodies is“not enough” as the town of 4,000 people watches their beachfront vanish before their eyes.
“There are concerns here that the band-aid solutions that the state bodies are bringing in will only worsen conditions in the long-term, and it’s difficult for me to understand why they don’t just fix the problem in one go. No one wants to see them going round and round in circles for years,” Mr Jones said.
“These issues should have been addressed at the same time, at least Hunter Water was quick to act on the problems that arose in January. The whole process is mind-boggling to us here in Stockton, and we just want them to get to the root causes and solve them.”
Rubbish found on Stockton Beach after the tip site was exposed by storms.
Mr Jones also raised one of the main concerns Stockton residents have about the funding: “will ‘emergency’ funding come through every time something happens, but that will be the only action?”
“We are hoping that isn’t the case, but that’s what has been happening historically now,” he said. “We saw it with the surf club in the past, now we have the tip and they’re addressing small problems as they crop up. It’s the same problem as the daycare, and none of these things help the fact it’s become a major issue now.”
Parliamentary Secretary for the Hunter Scot MacDonald, who announced the state government funding, said the estimated times for the emergency works are around two weeks, depending on weather.
Recent news on Stockton’s erosion problemsEmergency funding announced for Stockton beach tip siteCrown Lands ordered to take action on pollution from former tip siteTipping point on Stockton erosion: decades of waste piled on beachWave of concern as Stockton’s disappearing beach ‘ignored’Stockton community calls for state solution to erosion problems