Otago Daily Times

Some dis­agree­ment over free­dom camp­ing rules

CLUTHA

- RICHARD DAV­I­SON richard.dav­i­son@odt.co.nz Outdoor Hobbies · Hobbies · New Zealand · Auckland Region · Queenstown · Camping · Zoom Video Communications · Queenstown · Otago · Surat · Newhaven

A FI­NAL shape is crys­tallis­ing for new free­dom camp­ing reg­u­la­tions in Clutha, but dis­agree­ment on some as­pects may still lurk on the hori­zon.

Clutha Dis­trict Coun­cil se­nior an­a­lyst Mike Gold­smith pre­sented an up­date to the coun­cil on its pro­posed new free­dom camp­ing by­law dur­ing its Oc­to­ber 14 reg­u­la­tory and pol­icy meet­ing.

The up­date in­cluded sug­gested changes and ad­di­tions to the pre­vi­ous draft by­law, fol­low­ing ver­bal pre­sen­ta­tions by pub­lic sub­mit­ters on Septem­ber 3.

Among sub­mit­ters was New Zealand Mo­tor Car­a­van As­so­ci­a­tion (NZMCA) na­tional prop­erty and pol­icy man­ager James Im­lach, who said a pro­posed blan­ket ban on ur­ban free­dom camp­ing went ‘‘too far to­wards pro­hi­bi­tion’’.

Speak­ing via Zoom from Auck­land on be­half of the as­so­ci­a­tion and its 93,000 mem­bers, Mr Im­lach said NZMCA had sought a ju­di­cial re­view over Queen­stown Lakes Dis­trict Coun­cil’s sim­i­lar blan­ket pol­icy, but did not wish to ar­rive at this pass with Clutha.

Dur­ing its re­cent meet­ing, Clutha Mayor Bryan Cado­gan said he took ex­cep­tion to the ‘‘in­sin­u­a­tion’’ that NZMCA might take le­gal ac­tion un­less Clutha re­con­sid­ered its pro­pos­als.

‘‘It would be very dis­ap­point­ing if NZMCA were to threaten liti­gious ac­tion to dis­tort the process we’ve worked through care­fully.

‘‘We’ve con­sulted, lis­tened and learnt, and it’s time we had the gump­tion as a coun­cil to push on and bring this process to a res­o­lu­tion.’’

Speak­ing to the Otago Daily

last week, Mr Im­lach said he, too, was dis­ap­pointed by the ap­par­ent in­abil­ity to reach a com­pro­mise.

‘‘I be­lieve [Clutha] is fail­ing to ac­knowl­edge the post­Covid land­scape around camp­ing in New Zealand, and is bas­ing its con­cerns on a sit­u­a­tion [prob­lem­atic free­dom camp­ing vol­umes] that sim­ply won’t ex­ist for the fore­see­able fu­ture.

‘‘We are seek­ing a ju­di­cial re­view on Queen­stown’s by­law, but we’d pre­fer to con­duct an am­i­ca­ble, con­struc­tive process with Clutha.’’

Mr Cado­gan said the coun­cil had ‘‘care­fully con­sid­ered’’ the in­put of all sub­mit­ters, in­clud­ing the NZMCA.

‘‘It’s al­ways been our de­sire to work in with in­ter­est groups, but any coun­cil would be­come cau­tious when lit­i­ga­tion is threat­ened. It’s just un­nec­es­sary.’’

Other el­e­ments of the re­drafted by­law were wel­comed by stake­hold­ers.

Su­rat Bay Lodge owner Es­ther John­son, whose Ne­whaven ac­com­mo­da­tion ad­joins a car park pop­u­lar with free­dom campers, said the pro­posed in­clu­sion of the whole town­ship as a re­stricted ur­ban area was ‘‘ex­cel­lent news’’.

‘‘There’s some­body here al­most every night dur­ing sum­mer.

‘‘We pay our rates like ev­ery­body else. Why should they stay for free when there are mul­ti­ple com­mer­cial op­er­a­tors here?’’

The coun­cil will rat­ify the new by­law at its meet­ing on De­cem­ber 10.

 ?? PHOTO: RICHARD DAV­I­SON ?? No camp­ing . . . Su­rat Bay Lodge owner Es­ther John­son says she would wel­come the more strin­gent free­dom camp­ing reg­u­la­tions pro­posed for Ne­whaven in the Catlins.
PHOTO: RICHARD DAV­I­SON No camp­ing . . . Su­rat Bay Lodge owner Es­ther John­son says she would wel­come the more strin­gent free­dom camp­ing reg­u­la­tions pro­posed for Ne­whaven in the Catlins.

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