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Freedom Camping Bill Welcomed with Caution


Freedom Camping Bill Welcomed with Caution

The New Zealand Motor Caravan Association Inc has welcomed the introduction of the Freedom Camping Bill.

The Bill aims to prevent and punish reckless campers who deface New Zealand’s clean, green countryside by irresponsible disposal of human waste and litter. The Bill also protects access to an area and allows local authorities and the Department of Conservation (DOC) to designate areas where you can and can’t freedom camp.

NZMCA President Bruce Stanger said “We agree that something needs to be done where freedom campers are recklessly disposing of waste or camping in prohibited areas and this legislation does try to address these problems.”

However, he did not believe that responsible campers with self contained motorhomes or caravans and who camp in designated areas should be punished.

“The legislation does not recognise the high standard that the NZMCA sets for its 42,000 individual members, and 22,500 family groups. These are kiwis that enjoy the lifestyle of camping and our beautiful land with responsibility and care”, says Mr Stanger.

The NZMCA is the largest authority in the country that can issue certification against the New Zealand Standard: Self Containment of Motor Caravans and Caravans (NZS 5465:2001). All caravans awarded this Standard meet the ablutionary and sanitary needs of the occupants of the motorhomes and caravans for a minimum of three days without requiring any external services or discharging waste.

The NZMCA will be making a submission on the Bill to the Local Government and Environment Select Committee that supports the intention of the Bill but believes that the Bill needs to recognise certification against the Self Containment Standard. The NZMCA has engaged top public law firm, Chen Palmer, to ensure their submission is legally sound and emphasises the importance of the Self Containment Standard.

“We want the legislation to allow for responsible freedom campers using a certified self contained vehicle to be able to freedom camp in appropriate areas without over regulation by local authority or DOC officers”, said Mr Stanger.

The NZMCA considers the issues raised in the Bill to be important and are asking the Select Committee to give it adequate time to consider and hear submissions from interested people and groups.

“We appreciate that there is urgency to get this legislation passed before we host freedom campers from overseas to New Zealand for the Rugby World Cup 2011. But, once the rugby fans have packed away their tents there will still be thousands of kiwis wanting to freedom camp. We want to make sure their voices are heard during the Select Committee process because the laws made under this Bill will continue to be in operation after the Rugby World Cup”, said Mr Stanger.


ENDS

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