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Freedom Camping Update

The following has just gone up on the Council Website.

By contrast to Mayor Leach's "disappointment",  I am most encouraged by the figures - it shows that the contractors are doing a great job in locating the illegal campers who are undoubtedly becoming more resourceful in locating sites that are difficult to observe - Victoria St. Extension where we walk most mornings has more cars and vans parked overnight than ever before.

It will not take too long for the message to get out amongst freedom campers that this District is no longer an 'easy touch' in that regard. The new sites for certified serviced vans are welcome - hopefully there will many more before too long.

In the meantime, more power to the right arm of our Council on this issue - one on which Mayor Leach has shown real resolve by standing up to the threats emanating from the MCA.   


Illegal freedom camping on the rise

Unfortunately, our bylaw officers have recorded an increase in illegal freedom camping on the Coromandel, despite an amnesty in December and 330 warnings issued in January.

224 infringement notices were issued in January, using the new Freedom Camping Legislation and Freedom Camping Bylaw.

The Statistics (warnings and infringements combined)

2008        440
2009        570
2010        336
2011        406
2012        524

Mayor Glenn Leach said today he was disappointed with the results. "Obviously the message isn't getting through or people just don't care about our rules, which are there to protect our beautiful natural environment and our greatest tourism asset".

"Destination Coromandel released figures today on how popular our home is to visitors. The Coromandel rose above the rest of New Zealand to take out New Zealanders' favourite domestic holiday destination in 2011, while at the same time it emerged as the favourite holiday getaway destination for 2012 in AA's Summer Travel Survey".

"A Herald-DigiPoll survey also found 22.2 per cent of those polled chose it as their favourite holiday location, followed by the South Island with 21.3 per cent".

"Why do more people prefer the Coromandel than those that prefer the entire South Island? It's because of our natural beauty, native bush and beaches - and that's what we're unashamedly trying to protect".

"The Coromandel loves responsible campers and welcomes tourists with open arms, we just all need to play by the rules to make it work for everyone".

"We are also committed to adding more freedom camping locations for those freedom campervans that are self-contained, and we have staff working on a Council report as I speak".



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Reader Comments (1)

The message is well and truely out there - "We want your money as long as you're out of sight". And apparently you're now a 'criminal' in Thames-Coromandel if you dare try park overnight, tucked away not disturbing anyone. These are the messages received by visitors who actually contribute to the local economy and patronage camp grounds for the majority of their trips, but they are now avoiding the area because of fear and/or the principle of the matter. But hey, at least the camping grounds can now relax and the million dollar bach owners enjoy undistrubed views (at night), courtesy of the public purse.

In light of the recent infringement figures, one now questions the motive behind TCDC's approach. The public were sold on the idea that a substantive ban on FC must apply to everyone in order to protect our area from the indiscriminate disposal of waste. So, just what percentage of notices have been issued for this particular offence? vs the percentage issued to campers simply parking outside approved areas?

If the primary concern is in fact protecting the environment then there was no need for a bylaw. The legislation provides access to the infringement regime without one.

Bill, as an ex-Councillor do you think the decision by Council may have in anyway been influenced by irrelevant matters? e.g. revenue protection? The answer to this question can be found in various Council reports and public statements.

Oh, and throughout this whole ordeal we haven't taken much notice of the camping-related provisions under TCDC LGA bylaws. There are more serious questions over their blanket ban approach then the new FCA bylaw. I'm sure you're aware LGA bylaws require the same justifications as bylaws under the FCA.

To finish on a positive, TCDC staff deserve credit for at least searching for additional spots to add to Schedule B.

February 16, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJames Imlach

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