The Environmental Defenders Office has been engaged by group of New South Wales residents to investigate if the state government has a duty to repair and protect their beach from severe erosion.

Stockton Community Action Group (SCAG) engaged the EDO as part of its bid on behalf of the community to find a long-term solution to worsening coastal erosion. A huge stretch of coastline remains crippled by erosion. 

The erosion is connected with the construction of breakwaters and a deep water channel at the Port of Newcastle, the world’s largest coal export port. The impacts of climate change will dramatically exacerbate existing losses as sea levels rise, and extreme weather events increase.

Principal lawyer Elaine Johnson said EDO is exploring options for the community to “hold government to account” for failing to manage impacts to the beach.

“Our clients are very concerned about the loss of the public beach, which is central to the community’s identity as a coastal town” she said.

“As the impacts of climate change are upon us, government responsibility for protection of our coastline is a matter of significant public interest, not just for Stockton residents, but for coastal communities everywhere.”

“We are investigating what legal remedies are available to Stockton residents to address the harm already caused and help prevent exacerbation of impacts in the future.”

Access to the beach remains closed in many places.