Camp bylaw called unfair

CATHIE BELL
Last updated 16:00 05/11/2012

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The Marlborough District Council's new freedom camping bylaw is discriminatory against rural people, councillor Geoff Evans says.

Last week the council approved new freedom camping rules, which exclude freedom camping in the urban areas of Blenheim, Picton, Havelock, Seddon and Renwick.

Mr Evans argued the policy was discriminatory as it would affect only half the province - those in rural areas.

"Urban people have police protection. Rural people and the Sounds won't."

Councillor Peter Jerram said he believed the fears would be just that, fears more than a reality.

The review after a year was "a real comfort" to him.

Councillor Trevor Hook said the new policy meant the council could take enforcement action against offenders, which it had not been able to do before.

Mayor Alistair Sowman said the bylaw had been through a robust process.

"We owe it to this one to give it a go for a year."

Councillors, except Geoff Evans, agreed to approve the bylaw and to review it after a year.

Freedom camping had been banned throughout the district, but there were no enforcement powers except to tell people to move on.

The new bylaw has been introduced because of a law change that lets councils approve freedom camping except in designated areas. People who breach the bylaw can be fined $200.

A report by council staff said everyone was aware there were freedom campers within the district and this would continue.

"What council needs to focus on is what is possible with the available resources to best manage the issues of freedom camping and its effect on the environment," the report says.

The council's message would continue: "Camp in commercial campgrounds, Department of Conservation camps, and other designated sites."

The council will still encourage residents to let them know when they see camper-vans parked in prohibited areas and will continue to collate this information to give a clear indication of where the problems are.

"If areas not included in the prohibited areas are proving problematic, than a bylaw review will be initiated," the report says

Even in the areas where freedom camping is allowed, there are restrictions.

People must camp in self-contained vehicles, unless a public toilet is provided at the site; no more than two consecutive nights at the site; no fires can be lit; public access cannot be restricted; and all waste is disposed of appropriately.


PERMITTED AREAS

Freedom camping is allowed (with restrictions) at these sites in Marlborough:

Taylor Dam reserve;

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The Wairau Diversion reserve on the north side of the river up from the foreshore;

Ohauparuparu Reserve, off Kenepuru Rd;

Double Bay Reserve;

Ohingaroa Reserve

Blairich Reserve;

Collins Memorial Reserve;

Elterwater Reserve. 

- The Marlborough Express

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