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TDC passes bylaw banning freedom camping

April 28th, 2011
[by David Armstrong]

Tasman District Council has passed a bylaw that severely restrict, at least in principle, the activities of freedom campers in the district, after years of heated debate as to the extent and effects of the problem. (See our earlier story here)

The new bylaw, passed at the latest environmental and planning committee meeting, means only vehicles with self-contained toilet and wastewater systems will be allowed to camp in the district's open spaces. It will come into effect on May 31st.

Reported reactions have been mixed and often strong, particularly in Golden Bay where enforcing the bylaw will be very difficult anyway. Critics of the new bylaw say it will discourage touring campers from coming to the district, and that the bad habits of a small minority of freedom campers will mean the large numbers of environmentally respectful campers will be discriminated against.

Those welcoming the bylaw say they are sick of seeing the human and other waste and rubbish being left behind every holiday season by irresponsible campers.

Opponents of the bylaw, who formed the majority of submitters to the proposals, say it would be far better to put effort into public education and provision of composting toilets rather than just banning all freedom camping.

Of the 122 submissions received by the lawmakers, 78 were opposed. Council said that the main issues highlighted by all submissions included people wanting some controls, how the bylaw would be enforced, and the belief that any such bylaw would impinge on the Kiwi right to camp.

The bylaw will be up for review in one year. Of the councillors on the committee, eight voted for the bylaw and three against. Motueka ward's two representatives, Councillors Eileen Wilkins and Jack Inglis, voted for.

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