An impasse over who should pay for much-needed dredging in Port Hacking has ended with the state government picking up the tab.
Transport Minister Andrew Constance has announced a $2.5 million grant to dredge 60,000 cubic metres of sand from the main navigation channels.
In a win-win for shire boaters and beach-goers, the sand will be used to replenish heavily eroded Bate Bay beaches, subject to environmental approval.
The last major dredging work in Port Hacking was carried out in 2012.
Previous Labor governments from when Bob Carr was premier funded periodic dredging operations, but Coalition governments have tried to get Sutherland Shire Council to contribute.
Cronulla MP and Attorney-General Mark Speakman said “this safety issue has dragged on far too long”.
“The council has refused to make any contribution, unlike other councils along the NSW coast, which has been very frustrating,” he said.
“I’m grateful that the current minister has listened to [Heathcote MP] Lee Evans and me and stepped in to bypass the council and resolve the impasse.”
The council, which will manage the work, declined to respond to the criticism, but welcomed the minister’s announcement.
A spokesman said works would start once environmental approvals were granted by regulatory authorities, community consultation undertaken and tenders called.
The project was expected to be completed within 12 months from now, he said.
“It is intended dredged sands will be used to replenish Bate Bay beaches, contingent on further environmental approvals,” he said.
Mr Constance said Transport for NSW carried out a hydrographic survey last year, which confirmed channel sections were becoming increasingly restricted.
“The channel is used daily by the Cronulla to Bundeena ferry service and hundreds of recreational and commercial vessels, which are stored on nearby swing moorings, at marinas or clubs, or launched from the recently upgraded Cronulla boat ramp,” he said.
Cronulla National Park Ferries owner Carl Rogan was pleased with the news, saying “five or six areas need work”.
Mr Rogan said they had been forced to change the Bundeena ferry route from the middle to the eastern side of Gunnamatta Bay.
The main problem they struck was when boats with a deeper draught became stuck in the sand and blocked other vessels, he said.