Motorhomes may have to steer clear of the verge
Motorhome owners that park in front of friends' or families' houses may face a fine if the Taupo District Council's proposed freedom camping bylaw goes ahead, a policy expert says.
James Imlach - police and planning manager for the New Zealand Motor Caravan Association [NZMCA] - spoke to the NZMCA's submission on the draft bylaw at a hearing on Wednesday.
He said the council's proposed bylaw was an outlier when compared to other councils' bylaws. The proposal ran counter to New Zealand legislation, he said.
* Taupo schools reject idea of free campsites next door
* Taupo to expect influx of Lions' supporters
* Freedom campers could be banned in Taupo
"The Freedom Camping Act 2011 says freedom camping should be generally permitted, except in certain sites where it needs to be restricted or prohibited.
"The council has done the opposite and said freedom camping is prohibited everywhere, except in certain sites," he said.
"The council is maintaining a 'designated-sites approach' when that's not permitted under the Act."
Putting the bylaw through in its current state would put Taupo in a very difficult situation because Taupo will have a very different bylaw from other councils, he said.
"If the council adopts the bylaw in its current form then the NZMCA would have little option but to consider seeking a judicial review," Imlach said.
NZMCA's submission said the association has 72,000 members, and membership is expected to rise to 80,000 by the end of 2018. Baby-boomers characterise the majority of the association's membership and each year 4500 members participate in various clean-up and restoration events around the country, the submission said.
Imlach said the NZMCA attended council-facilitated workshops in 2016 before the bylaw was drafted.
"At no point did anybody mention through those workshops that [motorhomes staying outside friends' or family's houses] was a big issue that needed to be stopped," he said.
"The main issue was around protecting the lakefront – so why do you need to extend prohibition across the whole district? I just don't understand," he said.
"The idea of hoards of freedom campers descending on local neighbourhoods – that just doesn't happen, that isn't happening – that's a scare tactic."
Imlach said the association would support an approach that promoted freedom camping at certain areas and allowed it generally across the district, with the exception of specific sites such as Ferry Rd and the lake front.