A bid to remove dead Christmas trees by residents furious at the 'destruction' of the beach at Porthtown has been stopped by by Cornwall Council.
An event planned to remove the trees was stopped after a council officer said the authority would "consider its options regarding taking action to prevent such unauthorised interference and any appropriate recompense".
The dead trees were "planted" in the dune after the plan was cooked up by Cornwall Council with the support of local councillor Joyce Duffin.
The project was a bid to capture sand and allow grass to grow, however locals say the spiky additions are driving trade away, are an 'eyesore' on the popular beach, and are simply not working.
Residents say that many of the trees blew away in the winter gales, littering the village roads and gardens. Adding that those that remain are leaving sharp splinters of wood and pine needles scattered throughout the golden sand, creating a real hazard for bare feet.
The result is an "Alice-in-Wonderland's nightmare battle defences and the view of the sea is hidden by an orange plantation of dead trees, some still with tinsel twinkling in the spring sunshine".
There are reports of visitors turning away disappointed and asking for directions to a "prettier, more family-friendly" beach.
A plan to hold a community event to remove the trees was stopped at the last minute after Cornwall Council stepped in.
A letter from countryside officer Jolyon Sharpe said that a Porthtowan Beach Management Group (PBMG) event last weekend to remove the Christmas trees from Porthtowan Dunes was without prior consent from the Cornwall Council, who are the landowner.
Adding: "It is important that as the landowner and an organisation with statutory responsibilities that Cornwall Council work with the PBMG to ensure the aims and outcomes of the group meet not only European and National legislation but also policy regarding dune management and shoreline management. The event has unfortunately not gone through the correct event notification process and the organisers of the event have not produced any risk assessments or evidence of Public Liability Insurance.
"Furthermore the work does not follow any recognised and agreed plans developed for the dune system. In view of this as the landowner of the area Cornwall Council cannot agree to allow the PBMG to carry out the works.
"If the group feel that it is appropriate to act independently of Cornwall Council it will have to consider its options regarding taking action to prevent such unauthorised interference and any appropriate recompense. I would sincerely hope that we can work together to ensure the most appropriate outcome for this area and that the Council will not have to resort to such a response."
Porthtown Dunes Group posted on Facebook: "It is with deep regret that due to the response from Joyce Duffin and Cornwall Council that the removal of the Christmas trees will no longer go ahead.
"The Council have always said they wanted to work with the community, but having done everything the Council has asked of us a quarter of a year on Porthtowan is left being called a dump by holidaymakers with comments that they will not be returning unless something is done.
"Please be assured this is not the end. As long as the dunes are in the disgraceful state the Council has inflicted on them the dunes group will not give up. May we take this opportunity to thank everyone who is supporting us and please keep the pressure up on the Council to get something done.
Cornwall Council’s Natural Environment Manager Jon James said: ” We recognise the concerns which have been expressed over the use of Christmas trees to stabilise the dunes at Porthtowan and want to work with the local community group to agree a way forward.
"The planting of the trees was always intended as the first of a series of measures to stabilise the dunes, with other works, including the redistribution of sand and planting of marram grass, due to take place later in the year.
"We do not want to take any action which could be detrimental to the protection of properties, so we are seeking independent expert advice from a specialist company to fully understand what works are required for the long term future and stability of the dune system and to determine the best course of action.
"The recent storms which Cornwall has suffered has clearly demonstrated the importance of the dune systems in protecting Cornwall’s coastline and we need to ensure that all parties take a measured approached to ensure that we retain the best level of protection to communities.
"A meeting is being held with the dunes group committee later this week to agree what minor works can be carried out in the next few weeks.”
Cornwall Councillor Joyce Duffin told the BBC: "I can't comment if the trees are or are not working, though I think they are trapping some of the sand.
"But they would need to have permission because it's council land."