Court challenge to freedom camping bylaw

The New Zealand Motor Caravan Association is taking Westland District Council to court in a bid to quash its "overly restrictive" freedom camping bylaw.

The New Zealand Motor Caravan Association (NZMCA) will tomorrow file papers with the High Court at Greymouth as it begins a legal battle against the council's bylaw.

General manager Bruce Lochore said the council's bylaw was "overly restrictive" and in breach of the Freedom Camping Act.

The Freedom Camping Act, introduced in August 2011, allows councils to make bylaws which means it can issue a fine to freedom campers parking in restricted public areas.

But Mr Lochore said the Westland District Council's bylaw effectively prohibited freedom camping on all public land and roads within 1km of the boundary of all townships and settlements.

"In doing so they have ignored their obligations to adequately assess any perceived issues and consider alternative measures which may be appropriate and proportionate to the issue," he said.

In late November last year the council enacted its bylaw.

On the council's website, it states that: "a person must not freedom camp in any local authority areas within any no freedom camping zone...without the prior written consent of the Council".

The no freedom camping zone covers all council public reserves and all public land and roads within 1km of the boundary of all townships and settlements.