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Feedback welcomed on changes to freedom camping

Feedback welcomed on changes to freedom camping

Gisborne District Council is proposing a number of changes to freedom camping in the district.

Gisborne, unlike many other regions, has a long history of freedom camping and has welcomed permitted campers in nine areas along the East Coast and at Donneraille Park.

However, since 2011 when the Freedom Camping Act was passed ahead of the Rugby World Cup, people can now camp on any land belonging to Council.

The Act says Council can only stop or place restrictions on people camping on council land through a bylaw or a reserve management plan, says legal counsel Melanie Walker. “No one can camp in the Botanical Gardens for instance because it is explicitly banned in the garden’s reserve management plan.”

“Council has now drafted a freedom camping bylaw that aims to give Council the ability to manage camping on other areas of Council land. A number of changes are proposed and feedback is welcomed.”

It is proposed that summer freedom camping - from the beginning of daylight saving to the end of daylight saving or Easter Monday – will continue. However changes are proposed to where people can camp. Rere has been introduced as new camping site. Parts of Waipiro Bay will no longer be available. The middle area at Waipiro will stay but investigations have shown that camp sites at the northern and southern end of the beach are not on council land and so cannot be included.
It is proposed that the freedom camping area at Tolaga Bay be extended from the current site along the foreshore to the Council land adjacent to the river mouth. This is to ensure that the camping there is subject to some enforceable basic standards. Current freedom camping areas at Pouawa Beach and Turihaua Beach are also not included in the draft bylaw as they are also not on Council land. However the owners of the land are happy for the current permitted summer freedom camping arrangements to remain in these two popular areas.

The draft bylaw also includes overnight camping for self-contained vehicles. Overnight camping would be available year round in all summer freedom camping areas for one night only. Three new camp sites are proposed to cater for the mostly international and domestic tourists travelling around the country. Camping areas at Motu, next to the toilets, and eight car parks in the Marina car park, and the Makorori Beach car park are included.

Council is also proposing to ban camping in some areas. Camping on the dunes along Makorori Beach that belong to Council will be banned. This is to protect the dunes and make sure that people who want to come out to Makorori, and spend the day enjoying this area and the beach, can still do that.

It is proposed that camping will also be banned along part of Kaiaua Beach where there are sacred burial grounds and an area next to the permitted camp sites at Tolaga to keep free access to the cemetery. To avoid disruptions to people using the Marina boat ramp, and to ensure parking for Marina Restaurant customers, camping will be banned in the Marina car park except for the eight parks set aside for overnight campers.

Council will be developing a Coastal Reserves Management Plan later this year. The plan will look at all council land close to the coast and consider whether or not it is suitable for freedom camping. As a result, freedom camping may be promoted or prohibited in other areas.

“The proposed bylaw aims to protect freedom camping to ensure there is minimal damage to the environment, all people - not just campers - can still use the beaches and the health and safety of visitors to these areas is not threatened. The bylaw includes rules including how campers dispose of their rubbish and what ablution facilities they need. Those rules will be enforced once the bylaw is adopted,” Says Mrs Walker.

Copies of the draft bylaw are available from Council’s website or from Customer Services in Fitzherbert Street and Te Puia Springs.

Written submissions are welcomed on Council’s website, by mail or email. Submissions close at 4pm on Friday 1 July 1014.


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