TDC passes freedom camping bylaw

01:13, Apr 27 2011

The Tasman District Council has turned its back on the weight of public argument and passed its proposed freedom camping bylaw.

Only campers with recognised self-contained toilet and wastewater systems will be allowed to camp in the district's open spaces under the new rules.

The new bylaw was passed by councillors at an environment and planning committee meeting after they heard from 15 of the 78 opposing submitters.

The council received 125 submissions on the bylaw.

It will allow self-contained campers to stay on council road reserves and areas not listed as banned camping sites. Campers will face a range of fines for offences varying from leaving litter to repeat offending.

Many of those opposed to the bylaw criticised it as a blunt instrument which would affect all residents' rights to camp around the district. They called for more education and toilet and rubbish facilities rather than rules.

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Golden Bay resident Joe Bell said the issue was the behaviour of some campers, not the activity of freedom camping.

"It is the behaviour the council needs to address through common-sense rules, education and helpful information. The issue needs more time, consultation and consideration," he said.

Robert Murphy of Golden Bay said the bylaw breached people's right to camp. "This law will stop everyone dead in their tracks for enjoying why they live here."

David Newcombe said the region needed tourism, and tourists needed educating. The problem was created by a minority group but the bylaw affected all people.

Golden Bay's Rita Davies said the council should concentrate on the major problems of pollution, not the minor infringements of a few, while Peter Foster asked if the council had estimated and considered the cost of the bylaw.

However, Bill Rzoska congratulated the council on the bylaw and said that without it, the council had no teeth to police polluting campers.

Councillors were also divided over the bylaw. While they passed two recommendations covering the bylaw's body and amendments, they also agreed that it would be reviewed in a year. The votes were not unanimous.

After the meeting, committee chairman Stuart Bryant acknowledged that councillors had gone against the principle of the submissions. However, the bylaw would only be used to police the infringements of the few who openly polluted the environment, and would not be used as a blanket rule against responsible campers, he said.

Councillors backed the review, in case "in 12 months' time we find we have got it wrong", he said.

The bylaw mirrored the model drafted by the Parliamentary Counsel Office.

It will give council officers the ability to ask non-complying campers to move on. The council had to pass it to be able to prosecute and fine offenders.

Councils around the country need to have bylaws in place by May 31 to have access to the system of instant fines in time for the Rugby World Cup.

The Nelson City Council has received 52 submissions on its draft freedom camping bylaw, and 11 submitters want to be heard. The hearing will be held early next month. During summer, the council trialled freedom camping sites at the Sovereign St and Millers Acre carparks, then asked residents for their views. Its proposed bylaw also provides for fines for infringements.

HOW THEY VOTED

Freedom camping bylaw

For: Richard Kempthorne, Trevor Norriss, Stuart Bryant, Glenys Glover, Zane Mirfin, Eileen Wilkins, Jack Inglis, Brian Ensor.

Against: Judene Edgar, Kit Maling, Martine Bouillir.

The Nelson Mail