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Freedom Camping Statement from NZMCA

Freedom Camping Statement from NZMCA

The 39,700-member New Zealand Motor Caravan Association (NZMCA) is backing moves to ensure non-self contained vehicles camp in designated areas only.

And as part of its strong support of ‘responsible freedom camping’, the Association will be utilising its nationwide resources to assist motorhome rental companies certify their fleets to the NZ Standard.

NZMCA Acting President Bruce Stanger says the moves – which follow yesterday’s meeting of the National Freedom Camping Forum – are in line with his organisation’s own policies.

“Our policy is that freedom camping in appropriate locations, in compliance with local policy/ bylaws and with consideration for the environment and host community is only appropriate in Certified Self Contained (CSC) motorhomes.”
In response to claims from some councils that irresponsible motorhomers are fouling the environment, Mr Stanger says: “The problems come from people camping in vehicles which are ill-equipped to sleep over night in. If your vehicle is self contained you’re not going to go rushing into the bushes.

“I believe tourists freedom camping in non-self contained vans, people in cars, people cycling, people walking, they are creating a problem with waste disposal – yet responsible motorhomers are the ones getting the blame.”
In fact, he says, the NZMCA’s members – who represent some 80% of all private motorhome owners – are committed to protecting our environment.

“We have put our money where our mouth is. In conjunction with our partners we have helped fund the increased installation of dump stations, and led the way with the introduction of the Certified Self Containment scheme – which has been formalised as a New Zealand Standard – NZS5465:2001.

“It is our policy that responsible freedom camping can only be achieved in a certified self contained vehicle and at this stage the majority of our members’ motorhomes are certified to the New Zealand Standard. We believe if your vehicle is not certified self contained then you must stick to designated areas. How else can you provide assurance that you will dispose of waste appropriately?”

Just how seriously the Association takes the issue was seen last year when members voted overwhelmingly to change their Constitution to ensure that all new members’ motorhomes are Certified Self Contained within three months of joining.

“We believe the key to managing freedom camping is exactly that – management,” says Mr Stanger. “A proactive stance in the management of sites, education and provision of infrastructure, such as dump stations, goes a long way to maximising the benefits of freedom camping while mitigating the impacts.”
One important issue, he contends, is for central government and local councils to work together more closely to achieve consistency throughout the country.

“A major problem is the uncertainty and inconsistency across the country – every council has its own policies. You can freedom camp in one and the very next one you can’t. Visitors, in particular, have no idea of what’s expected of them.”

In urging a unified approach to the issue, ideally through the establishment of a national freedom camping policy, Mr Stanger says other problem areas need clarification too. They include:
Enforcement – The NZMCA believes it is councils’ responsibility to apply some resources to the enforcement of responsible freedom camping standards.
“It doesn’t have to be fulltime but certainly during peak periods it’s required.”

And Education – While the NZMCA is constantly getting the responsible freedom camping message across to its members, it doesn’t seem to be getting across to those causing the problems.

“The Association is doing more than can be expected in educating our members to be responsible and providing the necessary information. We promote CSC, there’s the policy for new members. We also have a complaints process to deal with members who behave irresponsibly” says Mr Stanger.

“But the reality is, the problem isn’t with their vehicles – the problem lies with those vehicles that don’t have any facilities.”

ENDS

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