16 May 2011

Freedom camping rules 'an attack on rights'

9:19 am on 16 May 2011

Some freedom campers say new powers to be given to councils are an attack on their rights.

The Freedom Camping Bill, to be introduced to Parliament this month, would allow councils to issue fines of up to $200 for illegal camping and prosecute campers for up to $10,000 for illegally dumping van sewage.

A freedom camper from Golden Bay, Jules Harper, says people have been camping in nature for centuries, but suddenly that's being made a crime.

Former Golden Bay community board member Joe Bell says the rules will mean only someone with an expensive motorhome with a chemical toilet will be allowed to camp in the region.

The Minister for the Environment is rejecting claims made by some freedom campers that new powers vested in councils to issue instant fines for illegal camping are draconian.

However the president of the Hawea Community Association, Rachel Brown, who has campaigned for a crackdown, says she's pleased to see action being taken at last.

And Environment Minister Nick Smith doubts the new rules will put off overseas campers.

He told Morning Report he has had letters of complaints from people who come to New Zealand about pollution of picnic spots with human effluent.

Local Government New Zealand expects 20 to 30 councils will use the new powers in bylaws before the Rugby World Cup.