This issue of backpackers, free campers and just the general public pulling up for a stay overnight has been going on longer than I care think about. But lately it seems to me at least the councils are cracking down to get their hands on a piece of an un-eaten pie, so to speak.
I will argue that there is more money to be made from “Free Campers” if you let them free camp, than if you where start to charge for accommodation. So many towns are seeing this through out Australia and have become reliant on this form of tourism as it is low cost to set up and draws a lot of travellers through for low if not no advertising.
With more recent articles showing the amount of fines being pushed through just one town, it is easy to see why the councils are making a huge deal about it and instead of offering what the public is demanding they are trying to make extra revenue from it via fines.
What’s your thoughts on this, we would love to hear
“THERE is no place here for people who think they are entitled to park and camp wherever they like.”
That’s the strong message from Byron Shire Council, which has issued more than 1000 infringement notices for a range of offences – including illegal parking and camping – over the Christmas and New Year period.
The council had 11 staff members from the enforcement team starting work early and finishing work late to crack down on the problem.
Director of sustainable environment and economy, Shannon Burt, said the heavy approach was in response to “ongoing concerns from our community about illegal campers and their behaviour and to let these people know that setting up vans and camping on beaches and in residential streets is not okay any time of the year”.
Ms Burt said a total of 1119 infringement notices were issued.
“The team worked across all the public holidays, starting at 3am in the morning and finishing at midnight, to send the message to illegal campers that they need to pay to stay,” she said.
“Enforcement staff wrote 218 infringement notices for illegal camping. We issued a further 901 penalties for other offences including parking fines which also take in people setting up their vans and sleeping in their cars in no parking areas … 124 of those parking fines were at Seven Mile Beach Road at Broken Head.”
Ms Burt said the council welcomed holiday-makers to the shire, but said residents and visitors who paid for their accommodation did not want to see tents on our beaches or in carparks and people setting up their vans in residential streets.
“Illegal camping will continue to be a focus of our enforcement operations for 2018,” she said.
It comes as the council plans to crackdown on illegal camping at Scarabolittis Lookout at St Helena.
There has been a “dramatic increase” in illegal camping at the site, and the council has announced plans to put rocks in the parking area to deter people from using it as a place to free camp.
It’s expected the rocks will be put in this week.
“Council signs indicating ‘No Camping’ and ‘No Parking’ are continually pulled out and thrown in the grass,” the council wrote on its Facebook page.
“Campers love the view and then use the area as a toilet and dump their rubbish.
“We’re working on a long-term solution to the problem.”
New Zealand is having the same issues, with below another article showing how big of a problem this is becoming.
About 80% of the 85 fines handed out for breaches of the Waitaki district’s Responsible Freedom Camping Bylaw since December 1 have not been paid yet, the district council says.
Fines totalling $17,000 were issued to freedom campers across the district. Of the infringement notices issued, each for $200, 15 ($3000) had been paid while 58 ($11,600) were outstanding.
The remaining 12, worth $2400, had been withdrawn.
Since the start of the 2017-18 financial year on July 1, 365 infringement notices had been issued.
Of those, 98 (27%) were handed out at locations in Waianakarua Rd and 83 (23%) in Maheno-All Day Bay Rd.
Forty-one (11%) were handed out in Beach Rd, while a total of 47 (13%) were issued in Esplanade Rd and Waterfront Rd in Oamaru respectively.
Fines can be issued for breaches such as freedom camping in prohibited areas, or in non self-contained vehicles.
Since the bylaw came into effect in September 2016, Waitaki Mayor Gary Kircher said many of the issues that plagued areas in the past, such as Campbells Bay at Kakanui, had ceased.
In the summer of 2015-16 up to 200 people stayed at Campbells Bay on busy nights, which resulted in the toilet block failing on occasions over the summer and waste and rubbish being left behind by campers.
Many Kakanui residents voiced their displeasure and demanded the council take action.
In October, freedom camping on an area of land at Campbells Bay owned by the Kakanui Ratepayers and Improvement Society was banned after up to five self-contained camper vans were permitted to stay overnight on the land as a trial.
Mr Kircher said that decision, in addition to the bylaw, had helped solve several problems.
“There is probably still pressure at All Day Bay [at Kakanui] but I think a lot of the pressure at Campbells Bay has disappeared … it’s probably displaced some people, so they’re going to other areas.
“The measures we have put in place certainly reduced a lot of the issues and we are certainly not seeing the major friction that we were getting. Compared to some of the other districts, we seem to be doing OK.
“There’s certainly more that we need to do around being welcoming so we will keep working on those things, but also controlling where and how the activity happens.”
Freedom camping in Waitaki is limited to specific areas for a maximum of three nights in a four-week consecutive period.