WHITSUNDAY Regional Council said they are extremely disappointed that the Airlie Aqua Park couldn’t open due to the threat of legal action against the park operator from a small number of residents.
“Council assessed an application for the commercial use of local government owned and controlled land, being the
marshalling area for the aqua park, above the high water mark located at Beacon’s Beach and as such a subsequent approval on a temporary basis was provided by Council resolution,” Whitsunday Regional Council’s Planning and Community director Dan Staley said.
“To assert that this activity is “development and should be assessed in a similar manner to that of
a permanent structure is fanciful.
“In relation to the on water Airlie Aqua Park this again is not “development” and the operator is not
undertaking “tidal works”.
“The park is an inflatable, moveable, temporary structure, situated on water in an area of beach that is not in front of any properties.
Whitsunday Regional Council has also received legal correspondence from the residents concerned and will defend any action taken in respect to the approval process of the Airlie Aqua Park.
JASON Ford is devastated his Airlie Aqua Park will not be opening today.
The 44-year-old Airlie Beach businessman invested six months of his time and $270,000 of his hard-earned cash into a venture he hoped would bring the community joy – only to be told at the last minute he could be faced with legal action if he went ahead.
Mr Ford was granted Council approval to run the inflatable water park off Port of Airlie’s Boathaven Beach, but now believes the nearby landholders have lodged complaints about not being able to object.
“On the one hand I’ve got Council saying ‘you’re right to go Jason’ and on the other hand I’ve got the landholders saying they should have been consulted and the manner in which the licence was granted was unlawful,” he said.
Mr Ford’s predicament has been further complicated by the fact that Boathaven Beach is reclaimed land – opened to the public in 2011 and handed over to Council’s control about two years later.
“So this case has never been tested before in Queensland,” he explained.
“I believe I’ve followed the rules and played by the guidelines set out by Council – and they’re not saying I’ve done anything wrong – but the downside is I’ve got to pay a barrister now to find out.”
Yesterday morning, just 24 hours before his first customers were due to make a splash from the new inflatable wonderland, Mr Ford made the hard decision to pack up pending further legal advice.