Vanpackers at Belongil Beach.
Vanpackers at Belongil Beach.

Byron to consider cheaper camping options for vanpackers

BYRON Shire Council is set to discuss a 12-month trial of designated "freedom camping" sites in an attempt to manage the effects of illegal street camping by "vanpackers".

A freedom camping notice of motion has been put forward by Cr Paul Spooner and would offer "an alternative between camping in residential streets and more formalised, expensive camping options".

"At the moment we have a zero-tolerance approach to vanpackers where our compliance team go in and issue fines, but this doesn't stop illegal camping in residential streets," he said.

"The majority of those fined are international travellers who do not pay their fines. If they don't pay, it's not an effective deterrent."

If the idea is passed at the next meeting, the council will ask for expressions of interest from established camping providers or new partners such as landowners who may be able to offer primitive camping facilities to RV campers.

Although he has worded the motion as "freedom camping", the camping sites would not necessarily be free, Cr Spooner said.

"Those facilities do cost, so there would need to be some charge involved, but with a trial we could see what the market is willing to pay," he said.

"They need access to water and toilets, but these freedom campers are after a cheap travel experience."

Cr Spooner's notice of motion follows a report prepared for the council in late August examining examples such as Dunedin in New Zealand, which offers limited free camping sites.

"This is about managing the effect of street camping without taking a big stick approach," he said.



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