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Freedom Camping (4)

The legislation passed through Parliament yesterday, and unless the new GG decides to put his foot down, all will be place for the World Cup. Our council will probably put a new by-law in place at its meeting on 7 September. Check my previous posts on the alphabetical listing to get the full picture. The full explanation of what is proposed is in the following TCDC Press Release today:

What are the changes to the bylaw?    

Definition Changes:

OLD: Camping = Means sleeping in any public place overnight.

NEW: Camp = Means to stay overnight, or more than 1 night, at any public place — (a) using a building, tent, or other structure; or (b) using a boat, or a car, campervan, caravan, or other vehicle

NEW: Licensed camp ground =  Means a camping ground that is the subject of a current certificate of registration under the Camping Ground Regulations 1985.

Clause Changes:

OLD 203.5 = (A person shall not) Camp in an area not set aside for the purpose. In this context camping shall include the use of any vehicle for sleeping whether or not it is specially set out for sleeping.

NEW 203.5 = (a) A person must not camp in any public place. (b) Subclause (a) does not apply if the person is camping— (i) at a licensed camping ground; or (ii) at a location identified in Schedule B and they are complying with all conditions attached to the use of that location; or (iii) with the written consent of an authorised officer and is complying with all conditions attached to that written consent. (The authorising officer must get approval from the Chief Executive and a Community Board Chair).

What is schedule B?

In the Government legislation, Councils are required to list the areas in their district where freedom camping is permitted.

Schedule B is attached to our amended bylaw and currently states there are no areas on the Coromandel where freedom camping is permitted.

The Council has decided to develop a Camping in Public Places Policy before any changes to Schedule B are considered. The community will be fully consulted in the development of a camping policy or if any changes are proposed to Schedule B.

Freedom camping is still not permitted on the Coromandel.

What are the problems with freedom camping and how will the new legislation help?

The Freedom Camping Bill will give Councils better tools for enforcing their own Freedom Camping bylaws.

Introduction of a $200 instant fine
Currently, a prosecution for illegal freedom camping requires a court prosecution and costs around $3000. Councils cannot justify this cost to the ratepayer, except in extreme cases, and therefore enforcement is difficult. The new instant fine regime will fix this.
Tickets can be issued to vehicles
The second problem is that only a person can be prosecuted – not a vehicle. It is impractical and costly for a council official to wait around until a person appears or to try and enter a campervan. The new law will allow tickets to be issued to vehicles just like parking tickets.
Same rules for all
The third practical problem is differentiating the exact legal boundaries in rural areas between council properties and Department of Conservation reserves. The new law has all the same rules for both and enables cross recognition of enforcement officials.
Rental companies will keep better records
The final problem is rental car companies either not keeping records of people's addresses or refusing to provide them. The new law will require rental car companies to keep the records to enable fines to be collected from offenders.

What next?

  • The amended bylaw comes into effect tomorrow (7 July 2011), but will not be implemented operationally until the government legislation is passed into law.

  • The Government freedom camping legislation will be 'in law' before the Rugby World Cup, enabling Council's to apply the new enforcement tools.

  •   The Council, through Community Boards, will work with communities to develop a comprehensive Camping in Public Places Policy before considering adding any locations to Schedule B.

Obviously, there is more to come, but the this covers the basics. There will do doubt be protests from all over, and enforcement is not going to be easy, but the deed is done, and TCDC can now set about putting some flesh on the rules to make it clear what you can, and what you can't do in this District.

You can bet that the announcement by Chris Alpe at the Tourism Holdings AGM a few months ago that he intended to put another 500 of his green Juicy's on the road before the World Cup had something to do with the haste with which this legislation was rushed through. I just don't think that anyone in Wellington had any idea as to the effect these and similar Wicked's, etc, were having on the environment.

Despite protestations to the contrary, the proprietors of these companies have shown no willingness to take steps to mitigate the effect of their mobile beds - 'smile and wave, but take the money and run while you can', has been the general response to the squeals from local government in every tourist area.

Mr Birkett, and TCDC's enforcement people will need every tool in the book, and ratepayer support to get this abomination under control. All those Caravan Association people who are so efficiently organised into newspaper letter writing campaigns have nothing to fear - just stick to the rules!




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Reader Comments (1)

It is sad that the few have spoilt it for the many. A few months ago we were motoring around the South Island and local people were incensenced at the disgusting behaviour of some of the freedom campers so The Coromandel is not the only place to be against the free campers. On the shore of Lake Tekapo I photographed the debri of broken bottles, empty plastic containers etc etc. and I was outraged that the Council had no waste bins anywhere which needlessly agravated the problem. It is a shame that the Mobile Home Assoc. will be disadvantage but lets face it laws are only created because a few people have no respect for their fellow beings.

August 22, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterPeter Fearn

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