Offroad stops bylaw difficult
Marlborough district councillors have a "minefield" of submissions to consider before finalising the proposed Freedom Camping Bylaw.
Representatives of organisations and associations had their say about the bylaw at the assets and services committee hearing at the council yesterday.
The new bylaw would allow campers to stay anywhere except at designated spots across the region and give council the power to issue $200 fines for not responsibly disposing of refuse and waste.Existing council bylaws ban freedom camping except for designated camping sites.
Most submitters agreed it would not be in the best interest of Marlborough's tourism industry to drive freedom campers away, and wanted to get a balance between the right of freedom campers and the interests of the community.
New Zealand Motor Caravan Association policy advisor Tony Gavin proposed following the lead of other towns such as Murchison and Taupo which provide controlled urban freedom camping areas.
"Independent surveys showed freedom camping in urban areas ... reduced vandalism, graffiti and boy racers in the areas where campers are parked."
Pam Thomlinson, of Rural Women New Zealand, was concerned that campervans were being pushed further afield into rural areas where it was more difficult to monitor their behaviour and ensure campers safety.
"If they are parking on isolated roads that are not serviced, who will ensure the areas are kept clean and tidy and secure?"
Councillor John Leggett agreed the key was to educate people, but protecting the rights of freedom campers and residents to enjoy the environment without over-regulating would be a dilemma for the council.
"No amount of rules or signs will prevent the few who don't have respect for others and the countryside," he said.
While information about responsible freedom camping was available, the council could increase awareness by providing more educational tools such as mobile phone applications and a Facebook page.
Port Underwood resident Eric Jorgenson was concerned campers would be allowed to stay on council land along most of Port Underwood Rd and Tumbledown Bay Rd if the bylaw was passed.
He provided 18 photographs of human and plastic waste, toilet paper and campfires from various campsites along the road, which was unnecessary when other campsites were available nearby, including Whites Bay and Rarangi.
Freedom camping regulation should be simple and easy to follow, he said.
- The Marlborough Express