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Wednesday
Sep282011

Freedom Camping (5)

The debate on the proposal at today's meeting jumped about all over the place, and some members appeared to have forgotten what they had already decided some months ago.

The bottom line is that the Government has passed legislation that permits districts to ban camping on public reserves, but only where scheduled. Our long standing By-Law banning freedom camping throughout the District on reserves is now ultra vires, and our Council needs to publish a policy (the draft of which I will append below), together with two Schedules - A where camping will remain banned, and B where it is permitted. The legislation requires the Council to schedule a reasonable number of camping places - it cannot simply issue a blank schedule. But at the same time, there is very definite resistance to simply opening up reserves for vans that are ill equipped for 'freedom camping', and Schedule B will be somewhat light, I suspect.

The second intention that has already been signalled is the willingness to relax the Camping Ground by-Law to permit expansion to take place under less onerous Resource Consent conditions and fees. This is partially aimed at making it a great deal easier for farmers to open up the 'front paddock' for suitably equipped vans.

Talks are proceeding with the MCANZ, (who claim to have 40,000 members!), but I suspect even they are wondering just how they would be expected to 'police' camping on our reserves, even with suitable leases in place. I don't expect this fanciful proposal to come to much - the Mayor expressed extreme impatience with its members who continue to misinterpret the Council's intention through the letter pages of the HH, PP and elsewhere. There is certainly plenty of intent to 'enforce' mentioned throughout the paper. 

The policy will now go out for consultation when everyone will have to opportunity to voice an opinion, and many are expected.

Here is the draft policy:

Policy StatementCouncil may allow for public places to be used for the purpose of sleeping overnight in a controlled manner. Only self contained vehicles will be permitted to camp overnight in these restricted areas.

The location of any restricted areas must first receive approval from the Community Board prior to seeking approval from Council. The Community Board must also establish what conditions it wishes to place on any restricted area in their recommendation to Council.

Self contained vehicles are those vehicles that can show they comply with NZS 5465:2001. This will be though the display of a label supported by documentation from the person certifying that the vehicle complies with NZS 5465:2001.

An additional part of the Consolidated Bylaw will be created under the Freedom Camping Act 2011 in order to manage this issue. The part will identify prohibited and restricted areas, it will also allow for conditions to be set on restricted areas that cover issues such as the type of vehicle that will be permitted in the public place, the length of stay, and any other conditions that Council considers may be appropriate.

When reserve management plans are reviewed consideration will be given to allowing freedom camping in designated reserves. The Community Board whose ward the reserve is in will provide a recommendation either supporting or not supporting the use of the reserve for freedom camping. As part of its recommendation it will also establish what conditions it wishes to place on the reserves use.

Signage will be placed informing the requirements of the bylaw that is created to regulate this activity.

Council will develop material that will inform of the locations where camping is permitted.

Patrols of the District will be carried out to ensure that the bylaw is being complied with.
Vehicles found not complying with the Freedom Camping Act 2011 will be fined.

 

 

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Reader Comments (2)

Some time ago I was asked by a camper-van group to find a place for them. After looking around I found what I thought was an ideal flat area with a streamlet and flat, metalled surface. After they had looked at it they turned it down because it was too far (3 kms) from a sea view and some work was needed to clean it up. I gave up. Other people have baches.

October 3, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterPeter H Wood

The reason TCDC are creating a new bylaw under the FC Act 2011 is to take advantage of the $200 instant fine regime once the transitional provisions expire (August 2012). If passed they will be able to issue a ticket on any vehicle that is not CSC and freedom camping, or freedom camping in prohibited areas, and collect the fines immediately. The $40 fine they currently issue under the LGA2002 isn't worth collecting if the courts get involved.

It appears the proposed bylaw prohibitions are inconsistent with the FC Act, specifically clause 11 and 12. In which case, the bylaw is invalid. TCDC's approach differs to that of the FC Act in that they have effectively banned freedom camping unless specifically authorized. Again, invalid.

TCDC are NOT required to create a new bylaw under the FCA. They can still maintain the blanket ban on freedom camping under the LGA 2002, however won't be able to issue instant $200 fines as noted above.

QLDC have issued over 100 x $200 instant fines since the legislation came into force. You do the math and make up your own mind whether the TCDC proposed bylaw is about protecting the environment or another revenue scheme.

If local authorities made bylaws inline with the requirements and intent of the new legislation, it should work in everyone's favour. If they simply transpose historical attitudes into new bylaws under the FCA, it wont work.

October 27, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJames Imlach

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