An environmentally friendly sea wall erected by residents along a section of the Salamander Bay foreshore at a cost of around $50,000 as a safety measure is under investigation by Port Stephens Council.
The residents of three properties adjoining George Reserve say they constructed the retaining wall last December at their own cost to protect the beach and a nearby sewer outlet after the council had failed to take action on the matter.
Asked if council would remove the unauthorised retaining wall, a council spokesperson said that they would not comment on matters still under investigation.
"However, we can say orders have been issued in the past for unauthorised foreshore structures and will be issued in the future if we are made aware of works that are newly constructed or considered a danger to the public."
The spokesperson said that any works on council land requires authorisation.
"The type of structure and location will determine the approval process (DA) and approval body. Items like this require the involvement of other State Government agencies."
The spokesperson said council had received numerous complaints from the public concerned about unauthorised foreshore structures.
"The community acknowledges there are foreshore erosion issues but don't want to see an ad-hoc response."
Residents spokesperson John Young said that some 15 metres of shoreline had been lost over the past 15 years, with a recent storm exposing the main sewerage line.
"Hunter Water erected a wall of rocks to protect it but the rocks were undermined by subsequent high tides. Earlier visits from a council officer indicated that they were not prepared to help directly and pointed out that all the erosion barriers had been built without council consent," he said.
Mr Young said due to the fact that no other unauthorised wall had been queried, "we decided in the interests of safety first to pay at our own cost [approximately $50,000] to erect the most environmentally friendly and least intrusive sloping wall".
"We looked at the well established erosion barriers by other neighbours along sections of Wanda Beach to have the wall align with an existing sea wall, which has many safety benefits including safeguarding the sewer pit and creating a decent public walk-through," Mr Young said.
During the past 38 years Mr Young reported a number of attempts to stem the erosion including the use of straw bales and vegetation, "all of which have failed".
Former mayor Bruce MacKenzie said that the wall was a relatively small issue in the overall scheme of things and he hoped that common sense would prevail. "The wall is doing its job."