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Judicial Review Of Freedom Camping Bylaw

Marlborough District Council has welcomed the High Court’s decision released on 23 December. The case was brought by the New Zealand Motor Caravan Association, which lodged a claim for judicial review citing their concerns over the Council’s Responsible Camping Control Bylaw 2020.

The Council was successful in convincing Judge Grice that the most appropriate and balanced outcome would be to remove clause 5 (the district wide ban on freedom camping) and leave the remainder of the bylaw in place.

While the judgment means freedom camping is now generally permitted in Marlborough, in practical terms not much will change. This is due to a number of reasons: the Awatere Valley Road to Molesworth is currently closed and Kenepuru Road access is severely restricted due to July’s storm damage. In addition, other potentially available freedom camping sites still require resource consent and there are currently historically low numbers of overseas visitors in New Zealand. The Council also has enforcement options under the Reserves Act, RMA and other applicable bylaws, if needed.

The court’s decision does not affect those who are camping or planning to camp at responsible camping sites in Marlborough this summer. In addition, there are many privately run camp sites across the region for people to use.

Judge Grice also recognised Council’s immediate response to the NZMCA’s legal challenge was to undertake its own review of the bylaw. The consultation for this is open for public submissions and people are encouraged to have their say by Monday 17 January 2022. For more information on the review or to have your say, go to: www.marlborough.govt.nz/your-council/bylaws/responsible-camping-control-bylaw-2020/draft-responsible-camping-bylaw-2022

For further information on camping in Marlborough go to: www.marlborough.govt.nz/recreation/responsible-camping or visit your local i-Site in Blenheim, Picton or Havelock.

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