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Friday
Dec162011

Freedom Camping (2)

Council adopted the by-law at Wednesday's meeting with minor changes reflecting some of the submissions made during the earlier hearings.

The process that has been determined by the new Freedom Camping Act has led to an unnecessarily complicated by-law, but it is better than nothing and TCDC staff will be under pressure with regard to enforcement, which will commence on 19 December.

This is the long and short of it without the sheen that accompanied the Council's release, and notwithstanding the quite erroneous story that appeared in yesterday's HH:

The existing by-law that forbids camping on Council reserves and roads, continues to apply in all areas of the Peninsula that are not covered by Schedule A. But it will extend up to 200 m. from roads and reserves. This by-law will be imposed leniently as it has in the past, and will continue to be used mainly to move people on.   

Schedule A lists those areas where camping is prohibited and is as follows: 

- Thames urban area

- Waiomu

- Coromandel Township

- Oamaru Bay

- Colville urban area and Colville Road

- Port Jackson and Port Charles Roads

- Wentworth Valley Road

- Tuateawa

- Little Bay

- Whangapoua and Whangapoua Rd

- Matarangi/Rings Beach

- Kuaotunu

- Otama

- Opito

- Coroglen and Waiwaiwa River Reserve

- Cooks Beach

- Shakespeare Reserve

- Hahei

- Hotwater Beach

- Tairua

- Pauanui

- Whangamata

- Whitianga

- Egan Park

- Quarry Point Reserve

- Te Puia Reserve

For maps of the prohibited areas, click here.

Schedule B - Camping is permitted within the areas in Schedule A above at the following:

Thames

• Two car parks in the car park next to Danby Field (SH25)

Conditions of use:

• Only self contained vehicles that can show they comply with NZS 5465:2001 will be permitted;
• A maximum of two nights stay
• Persons must move at the request of an authorised officer

Tairua

• Two car parks at the eastern end of the car park adjacent to 9 Tui Terrace

• Two car parks at the south end of the car parking area at 25 Paku Drive

Conditions of use:

• Only self contained vehicles that can show they comply with NZS 5465:2001 will be permitted
• A maximum of two nights stay
• Freedom Camping is not permitted at these locations between 20 December and 8 February
• Persons must move at the request of an authorised officer.

Community boards will recommend additions to this list over time, but these rules will apply in the meantime from 19 December. To forestall outrage, it should be noted that it is the stated intention that enforcement will remain as light-handed as in the past over all those areas of the Peninsula that are not covered by Schedule A, and there is no intention to target other than blatant infringement of the by-law- whatever that means. 

For some reason best known to those who have drawn up these Schedules, there exists separate lists of reserves and private areas where both self-contained and non self-contained vehicles are welcome - some only the former, and some both. This has been done by Community Boards in both Whangamata and Tairua/Pauanui in order to avoid harming business, while still exercising some control. I will post the lists as soon as I can get my hands on them.

Enforcement officers will have the power to issue $200 fines where the rules, or their instructions are blatantly ignored. Expect leniency in the first instance, and confusion in the second as the effects begin to be felt throughout the Peninsula. Time and patience will be required to enable the regime to settle in, and enforcement officers to come to terms with their new powers.

Campers will certainly resent this new initiative, at least in the first instance, and members of the MCA will react as they too are moved on from reserves that they have treated as a home away from home for far too long. They can no longer regard an on-board loo as a ticket to do as they please, while looking down their noses at the riff-raff in un-serviced vehicles.   

In the meantime, it should be stated that staff assured Council that the by-law and the schedules have been double checked by the Council's own solicitors, and they are satisfied that they are in accordance with the requirements of the Act in every respect. Also that they has been no infringement of the Bill of Rights, which would of course supersede any provision that was in conflict. Cr. Wells in particular exibited considerable nervousness over the legality of the by-law. 

It only remains for it to be tested in the Environment Court, unless the MCA decide to try to bypass this forum and go direct to the High Court to try to have it thrown out. My feeling is that they have exhausted their goodwill quotient here while attempting to get their own way at every turn. The power of the MCA is by weight of numbers, and a strong lobbying force in Wellington. The increasing numbers of baby-boomers hitting the road in out-sized vehicles to reduce the inheritance while renting out the family home are a force to be reckoned with, but they have to understand that the Coromandel, along with other districts has responsibilities to its own rate-payers in the first instance. 

This by-law is the first step needed to deal with otherwise welcome visitors - both of the the green Jucy variety, and the Grey Tide. Congratulations are due to TCDC for having the courage to bring this by-law to fruition. It will only take a few fines for the texts and twitters to get the message out there, and I for one believe the negative effects of enforcement on local busines has been grossly over-stated. This district will remain the destination of choice for a very long time to come regardless of this by-law, and any MCA boycotts. 

 

 


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Reader Comments (2)

How is this by-law is to be enforced and what is the likely cost?
Given the popularity of our region, it would be reasonable to expect full time enforcement officers on the road daily if we are to treat the by-law seriously. That means vehicles, mobile telephones, laptops (?) et.al. supplied to staff.
Such enforcement is suggested in the notion that offenders will be treated with leniency initially. Authorities need to know that infringements have occurred in order to be lenient?
So if we aren't seen to vigorously enforce, is there any point to the by-law.
And what about notification? Adequate notification is a pre-requisite for effective and sufficient (transcient) visitor information prior to infringement action.
All sounds a little costly to me.
Rate-payers beware of the need to dig yet a little deeper.
Sigh.

December 18, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterRussell

Time will tell Russell but the costs should be covered by the fines - they are already being recovered for other districts through the hirers who still have access to the credit cards.
32 vans were counted on road reserves early last Wednesday morning between Whitianga an Thames. Something has to be done, and at this stage this is the best we have. I also have doubts about enforcement, but up until now the officers have just not had the tools. So let's give it a go.

December 18, 2011 | Registered CommenterBill Barclay

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