More areas wanted for freedom camping

Latest revised version of the plan would extend blanket ban on reserves across the district.

Latest revised version of the plan would extend blanket ban on reserves across the district.

File picture

THIS week Gisborne District Council’s hearings committee listened to submissions on its draft Freedom Camping Bylaw and heard calls to open up further areas for freedom camping.

Some private submitters wanted to see Sponge Bay and Kaiti Hill added to the places where freedom camping by self-contained vehicles is permitted, but their national association was concerned about a possible blanket ban on reserve land.

New Zealand Motor Caravan Association national policy and planning manager James Imiach said the Gisborne district faced more complex problems than any other in New Zealand, and generally the association supported the draft plan.

But if his understanding was correct, the latest revised version of the plan, following earlier submissions, would extend a blanket ban on reserves right across the district.

“With the greatest respect to the council and the officers who have been working on this proposal, we do oppose that approach,” he said.

There was no definition of land under the bylaw, so one could assume any piece of land that had reserve attached to its name fell under the scope of the bylaw.

“The problem with that is it gives council enforcement officers the power to issue $200 instant fines to anybody freedom camping on any piece of land that may be a reserve.”

Other councils had taken this approach, saying that was not what they intended to do — but two seasons later that was exactly what they had done.

A departure from current bylaw

This provision was quite a departure from the current bylaw.

It was also a major amendment to the draft proposal on which the association submitted a few months ago.

He was not aware of any other council that had imposed a blanket restriction on reserves.

The solution they were suggesting was to review the provision, take it out and maybe replace it with bans for specific named reserves where, after site assessments, it was clear there would be problems.

That would be far better than implementing a blanket ban. It would make it easier for the association to continue promoting Gisborne to motor caravaners.

Other private speakers were more direct.

Alan Gee wanted to see freedom camping extended to Sponge Bay where he said it would be a deterrent to vandalism and could be managed by a locked gate.

He did not understand why freedom camping was prohibited on Kaiti Hill because of mana whenua considerations, saying that generations of locals had walked, run and played on the hill and nobody said anything.

The top carpark on the hill could have a maximum of four vehicles.

Brian Hall was one of several speakers to press the need for enforcement, describing how he had seen “disgusting” rubbish in Grey Street by Waikanae Beach.

The number of motor caravaners had trebled in the past five years and would do so again, he said.

Evan Bowis said if the council was going to impose restrictions it must be prepared to enforce them. The council needed to make Gisborne truly motor home-friendly, not the present token situation.

Speaking for Hauiti Incorporation, Peter Andrew expressed concerns about large vehicles of 7.5 metres or more using the carpark by the Tolaga Bay wharf, which was extremely crowded in the summer.

They were also concerned about freedom camping being allowed in the winter at the Bluewater area.

Enforcing the bylaw would be at a cost to ratepayers, he said.

The committee went into public excluded to consider its decision on the submissions.

THIS week Gisborne District Council’s hearings committee listened to submissions on its draft Freedom Camping Bylaw and heard calls to open up further areas for freedom camping.

Some private submitters wanted to see Sponge Bay and Kaiti Hill added to the places where freedom camping by self-contained vehicles is permitted, but their national association was concerned about a possible blanket ban on reserve land.

New Zealand Motor Caravan Association national policy and planning manager James Imiach said the Gisborne district faced more complex problems than any other in New Zealand, and generally the association supported the draft plan.

But if his understanding was correct, the latest revised version of the plan, following earlier submissions, would extend a blanket ban on reserves right across the district.

“With the greatest respect to the council and the officers who have been working on this proposal, we do oppose that approach,” he said.

There was no definition of land under the bylaw, so one could assume any piece of land that had reserve attached to its name fell under the scope of the bylaw.

“The problem with that is it gives council enforcement officers the power to issue $200 instant fines to anybody freedom camping on any piece of land that may be a reserve.”

Other councils had taken this approach, saying that was not what they intended to do — but two seasons later that was exactly what they had done.

A departure from current bylaw

This provision was quite a departure from the current bylaw.

It was also a major amendment to the draft proposal on which the association submitted a few months ago.

He was not aware of any other council that had imposed a blanket restriction on reserves.

The solution they were suggesting was to review the provision, take it out and maybe replace it with bans for specific named reserves where, after site assessments, it was clear there would be problems.

That would be far better than implementing a blanket ban. It would make it easier for the association to continue promoting Gisborne to motor caravaners.

Other private speakers were more direct.

Alan Gee wanted to see freedom camping extended to Sponge Bay where he said it would be a deterrent to vandalism and could be managed by a locked gate.

He did not understand why freedom camping was prohibited on Kaiti Hill because of mana whenua considerations, saying that generations of locals had walked, run and played on the hill and nobody said anything.

The top carpark on the hill could have a maximum of four vehicles.

Brian Hall was one of several speakers to press the need for enforcement, describing how he had seen “disgusting” rubbish in Grey Street by Waikanae Beach.

The number of motor caravaners had trebled in the past five years and would do so again, he said.

Evan Bowis said if the council was going to impose restrictions it must be prepared to enforce them. The council needed to make Gisborne truly motor home-friendly, not the present token situation.

Speaking for Hauiti Incorporation, Peter Andrew expressed concerns about large vehicles of 7.5 metres or more using the carpark by the Tolaga Bay wharf, which was extremely crowded in the summer.

They were also concerned about freedom camping being allowed in the winter at the Bluewater area.

Enforcing the bylaw would be at a cost to ratepayers, he said.

The committee went into public excluded to consider its decision on the submissions.

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