State Govt pushes back delivery for Stuarts Point Sewerage Scheme

Published on 06 December 2022

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Residents of Stuarts Point and surrounding areas have been provided with a new timeline for delivery of the much-anticipated project after confirmation of the required NSW government approval process.

Kempsey Shire Council has received legal advice that the approvals required for the project are far more complex than first anticipated due to planning provisions within State Environmental Planning Policies.

Price escalations have seen the project costs now reach approximately $48 million which means it is classed as a state significant development for development consent purposes and therefore the Department of Planning and Environment become the consent authority. 

On Monday, Council notified key resident advocacy groups in the area that this approval process is likely to delay the project by up to 18 months, with connection to properties not expected before 2025. This will be followed up with a notice delivered to every residence next week.  

Kempsey Shire Mayor, Leo Hauville, wrote to the community in Stuarts Point on Monday expressing Council’s frustration.

“I know, as do the Councillors and Council staff, how deeply frustrating and disappointing this will be for the community of Stuarts Point and its surrounds,” said Cr Hauville.

“Due to state government legislation that was poorly written in 2011, there will be a delay in delivering the project by 18 months. It is unacceptable for all the Shire Community, especially the people at Stuarts Point. Council staff, your Councillors and I will continue to seek Government support for amending the legislation. We will also seek support from all candidates at the next State election in March.”

Kempsey Shire Council General Manager, Craig Milburn, says Council had hoped to deliver the project sooner but could not find an agreement with the state government.

“Delivery of the Stuarts Point Sewerage Scheme is regrettably not expected until 2025 at the earliest,” said Mr Milburn.

“This unavoidable delay, of up to 18 months, is required despite Council advocating for quicker alternatives, as the project must seek consent under the NSW state government’s complex approval pathway. Council have sought multiple legal opinions and advocated with the State local member and the relevant Minister but there are no alternatives to this legislated planning pathway at this stage.”

“We know that this will frustrate members of the community who have been waiting for this project for years, but at least now we have a way forward.”

Previously, Council had anticipated that construction tenders could be called for in this financial year, however the approval pathway that has now been established requires significant environmental reporting including preparation and public exhibition of an Environmental Impact Statement.

Kempsey Shire Council Group Manager Water and Sewer, Wes Trotter, assures residents that the groundwater issues seen in the area during recent floods was not a factor.

“Rising groundwater levels such as those experienced in the last two years have impacts on onsite sewer systems, but these systems aren’t the cause of the rising water,” said Mr Trotter.

“The groundwater issues will continue to be monitored and managed separate to the new sewer scheme project. Council has had tremendous success with our emergency pumping actions. Houses were saved this year and we are well placed to do so again should we see further rising ground water levels.”

Planning and constructing the Stuarts Point Sewerage Scheme is a highly complex project impacted by state government environmental and planning legislation.

The State Significant Development process now requires Council to:

  1. Prepare a scoping report that identifies what information needs to be included in the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) and what consultation must be undertaken
  2. Prepare an EIS in accordance with state government guidelines
  3. Have the EIS reviewed by a Registered Environmental Assessment Practitioner
  4. Submit the EIS for assessment by the NSW Department of Planning and Environment (DPE)
  5. Place the EIS on public exhibition for a minimum of 28 days, with submissions being made to DPE who will publish all submissions as a report on the NSW Planning Portal
  6. Provide DPE with a response to the submissions report
  7. Await the assessment report from DPE followed by their determination
  8. Upon approval, seek the necessary additional approvals to commence construction.

Council will provide updates on progress directly to the community and via their website at


At its December 2018 meeting, Council resolved to pursue the option of constructing a wastewater treatment plant near Stuarts Point rather than the originally proposed pipe transfer to the South West Rocks plant.

The NSW Government has provided $6.63 million in funding to help construct the Stuarts Point Sewerage Scheme under the Regional Water and Waste Water Backlog Program with the remaining cost to be funded by Council.

The key driver for the Sewerage Scheme is addressing the issues with existing treatment systems in use in the villages. Council is focused on providing the most sustainable sewerage service to benefit and meet the needs of the whole community.

The Sewerage Scheme will provide reticulated sewer to the villages of Stuarts Point, Grassy Head and Fishermans Reach.

In May 2021, following months of negotiations, Council and the Kempsey Local Aboriginal Land Council struck their first ever Deed of Agreement, which enabled to acquire land in Stuarts Point crucial to the delivery of the sewer project previously subject to an unresolve land rights claim..

The Stuarts Point collection network masterplan design was completed in September 2021. The modern wastewater management system resulting from this project will have numerous benefits for the entire area, including a positive environmental impact by reducing onsite sewage system leakage, eliminating odour and water quality issues.

Residents, visitors and primary producers will all benefit from the construction of the Sewerage Scheme.

In May 2022 Geotechnical investigations at the site of the sewage treatment plant and dunal discharge site commenced. Council also completed Network and Treatment Plant Concept Designs for the scheme. This enabled the planning proposal to commence with defined pipe routes, plant footprint and scheme investigations.

For more information on the project please head to

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