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United front on Stockton Beach erosion

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Resident Lucas Gresham says the community’s “passion has come out” amid unprecedented erosion of Stockton Beach.

Mr Gresham cited inaction from the state government and temporary solutions by Newcastle council as two main reasons for his launch of a GoFundMe page, which, as of Tuesday afternoon, had raised more than $15,000 online.

The donations will go towards a community class action and help lodge a claim with the Environmental Defenders Office (EDO) – an independent legal centre that specialises in public interest environmental law.

Mr Gresham said the initial target was $1,000, but additional funds would potentially assist with “solicitors’ advice or whatever else that may be”.

“We have been in contact with the EDO, but we haven’t had an official call yet,” he said.

“The CFMEU and MUA [unions] have called us and said they want to support us.

“For us, we just want to make sure we’ve got the ducks lined up correctly so we can start on the action.”

Earlier this month, a childcare centre was forced to close due to safety concerns, while the Stockton Surf Life Saving Club and popular café Lexie’s On The Beach were also under threat.

Newcastle council stated last week it would undertake multi-million dollar works at the northern end of the Mitchell Street seawall in a bid to protect the existing rock wall from future failure caused by ongoing erosion.

The council’s chief executive, Jeremy Bath, said it was doing everything possible under state government legislation to protect property and public safety.

“We are working with various government agencies on a coastal management program, which state government legislation dictates will come into effect on 31 December 2021,” he said.
“This plan will include a long-term solution to ongoing erosion at Stockton.

“Until then, our hands are tied in terms of what we can do, unless the state government intervenes.”

The council, which was only approved to provide short-to-medium actions, stated it had spent more than $5 million since 2015 on managing erosion at Stockton, including the recent emergency works.

Mr Gresham said the community would continue to show a united front.

“We’ve learned to live with our feelings under the skin going ‘Okay, one day it’ll happen,” he said.

“I remember going to the same meetings when I was a kid; it’s like being in a time warp.

“But everybody’s passion has come out – no-one will let this go, we’ll follow it through until it’s done.”

A community meeting will take place at Stockton Surf Life Saving Club today (Thursday 26 September) at 5pm. Everyone is welcome to attend.

You can also visit gofundme.com/f/save-stockton-beach to donate.

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