Taupo District Council backtracks on freedom camping bylaw, seeks consultation
A much more permissive freedom camping bylaw is being put forward by Taupō District Council policy staff following public consultation, re-drafts, legal threats, and more re-drafts earlier this year.
Councillors will consider the re-written draft bylaw at an extraordinary council meeting on Thursday September 14.
If councillors approve of the draft, it is likely to go to public consultation.
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The revised draft bylaw permits only self-contained campervans to camp out within the Taupō District's local authority area.
The new proposal removes a contentious law that would have banned all campervans staying overnight within 200 metres of the lake.
Drivers of so-called "sliding door campervans", which are not self contained, could be liable for a $200 infringement if they stay parked up next to the lake or in town.
Non-self-contained vans will be permitted at designated "Open Freedom Camping Areas", however.
These areas include Hipapatua [Reid's Farm], Mangakino Recreation Reserve, Whakamaru Domain and Whakamaru Recreation Reserve.
A report accompanying the revised bylaw proposal said residents' main concern's were about "impacts on the environment and people's health and safety from waste from campers", as well as access to lakefront areas.
The report, authored by council's senior policy advisor Jane Budge, said banning sliding door vans from areas without adequate rubbish bins and public toilets should address these concerns.
Enforcing existing prohibitions lakefront reserve camping though the Reserve Act  would manage lakefront access better than the bylaw would, the report said.
"The issues around access can be better managed through enforcement of the camping prohibition on most reserves around the margins of Lake Taupō and the Waikato River," the report said.
"Council can also utilise the existing Traffic Bylaw to manage the location and timing of vehicle parking on road reserves."
The draft bylaw proposal would restrict freedom campers to either two or three days in one site
If asked by an enforcement officer to move on from a site, a person must move at least 500m from the original site.
Councillors will decide on Thursday whether a two-day or three-day restriction is more appropriate for the draft going to public consultation.
The council's first bylaw proposal was sent out for public consultation in February and April. The first proposal banned campers from the all public areas in the Taupō District, with the exception of 15 sites.
More than 135 public submissions on proposal came in, with around 80 per cent in opposition.
These include a legal threat from the New Zealand Motorcaravan Association to conduct a judicial review of the bylaw on the grounds it ran contrary to the permissive intent of the government's Freedom Camping Act 2011.
A revised draft bylaw was presented to councillors for consideration in June. This proposal allowed camping in most areas, but banned camping from within 100 metres of the lake. This condition has been has been removed from the most recent iteration of the bylaw.
According to Thursday's meeting agenda, if councillors approve the draft bylaw, it will be put forward for public consultation from September 19 to October 20, with a hearing on November 13. Following consultation, councillors can make a decision on the bylaw in mid November.