Marineland closure upheld

By Doug Laing

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The High Court has upheld the Napier City Council decisions which led to the closure of former beachfront tourism venture Marineland.

The decision of Justice Jillian Mallon was delivered late yesterday, dismissing an application for a Judicial Review made by Friends of Marineland and heard in the court in Napier seven weeks ago.

It enables the council to start planning for the future of the Marine Parade site, where Marineland had been the face of the tourism industry in Napier for more than three decades after opening in 1965 with a show focusing on performing dolphins and sea lions.

Mayor Barbara Arnott was unable to be contacted last night, but deputy Kathie Furlong, who last night had been told of the outcome but was yet to read the decision, said use of the site had been in limbo for a year as the council awaited the legal procedures. Councillors would be pleased their processes had been proven valid, she said.

"As for what is going to happen next, we are still searching for something that is affordable and attractive," she said. "Over the years there have been a lot of ideas, but everything's got to be paid for, and nothing leaps out of the page at this stage.

"It is a prime site, and it deserves something of real benefit to the people of Hawke's Bay and the visiting public."

Friends of Marineland spokesman Cliff Church, who once stood for Mayor of Napier on a Save Marineland plank and who, as a lawyer, assisted counsel Philip Ross in taking the case to court, was also still to read the decision which had become available late in the day.

Mr Ross said the "Friends" were pleased they had the opportunity to be heard. The case was able to proceed only after the group raised $12,000 to meet a requirement set by the court as a bond against costs.

Justice Mallon ruled the Friends of Marineland had failed to establish that the council's process, which led to the July 2008 closure decision, did not comply with the requirements of the Local Government Act.

"The nature of the consultation was adequate to the decision being made and was a genuine consultation exercise rather than mere window dressing," she said.

- HAWKES BAY TODAY

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