Camping ground owners fear an adverse effect on their business, reports Maryanne Twentyman.
Camping laws on the Coromandel are to be policed by a team of "bylaw officers" employed to clean up those flouting the region's freedom-camping rules.
The enforcement service comes as more than 15 newly proposed freedom-camping sites were pitched by Thames Coromandel District Council yesterday that will now be subject to public consultation.
Existing camping-ground owners on the peninsula are divided in opinion over freedom-camping zones but most believed it would have an adverse affect on their business.
Mill Creek Campervan Park owner Gaye Butcher said she was anti-freedom camping because of the money she had spent on developing excellent camping facilities at considerable cost.
"I have also seen what freedom camping does to the environment and the mess [freedom campers] leave behind, especially around the beach areas," she said.
Gemma Richards, from Riverglen Camp Ground in Coroglen, said she didn't have a problem with freedom campers "so long as they are fully self-contained".
"There is a spot about a kilometre up the road where freedom campers often stop, and the mess they leave behind is disgusting," she said.
"You find poo on the ground and toilet paper - there is no need for that if they are complying with rules around being self-contained."
TCDC communications and economic development manager Benjamin Day said he understood that camping ground owners were sensitive to the freedom-camping proposals.
"But we believe that long-term they will be better off having prohibited locations added to [the list] as part of a comprehensive bylaw so we can enforce freedom camping properly and get more illegal campers into camp grounds, and really start to create behaviour change without punishing responsible campers and motorhome owners," Mr Day said.
The team of bylaw officers will be led by senior compliance officer Steve Hart, who said the team had been reduced from eight staff employed by a contractor, to four full-time staff employed "in-house" by the council.
"Their brief is to monitor any issues around parking, freedom camping, littering, day-time noise limits and animal control. They'll also be providing help and information to visitors and tourists travelling around the Coromandel," he said.
There are currently two freedom-camping locations in the region including the Danby Field carpark in Thames and carparks in Paku Drive and Tui Terrace in Tairua.
The proposed new freedom-camping sites dues for public consideration include multiple sites in Mercury Bay, Tairua, Pauanui, Whangamata and Coromandel and will be considered as part of the 2013/14 Annual Plan.
"The district needs a Freedom Camping Bylaw under the Freedom Camping Act 2011, which gives us very effective tools to manage the problems associated with freedom camping," Mr Day said. "However, to take advantage of the new tools to manage the negative effects, blanket bans on camping are not permitted. At the moment we only have two places on the Peninsula where self-contained vehicles can camp, so we're looking at sensible new locations to bring more balance to our bylaw approach".
New prohibited locations, where the council has direct evidence of environmental damage caused as a result of camping, are also being proposed.
PROPOSED FREEDOM SITES
Coromandel Wollam Ave Car Park, Patukirikiri Reserve, Kapanga Rd Car Park Whangamata Island View Reserve, I-Site car park, Beach Road Reserve Tairua Paku Drive (extended), Tui Tce (extended) Pauanui Royal Billy (Road Reserve) Cooks Beach Central Park, Purangi boat ramp Whitianga Cemetery car park, Taylors Mistake Kuaotunu Quarry Point Reserve, Kuaotunu Domain Matarangi Omaro Reserve
- © Fairfax NZ News
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