Chloe Ranford, Local Democracy Reporter
Freedom camping rules in Marlborough could go under the microscope again, for the fifth time in 15 years.
The Marlborough District Council may need to make "changes" to its new freedom camping bylaw, launched last December, if the Government sticks to its plan to impose national rules.
The national rules, currently open for feedback, propose banning vehicles without certified toilets from being able to freedom camp, or making campers in vehicles without certified toilets stay at sites with facilities.
The potential affects of the proposed rules was discussed at a consultation meeting in Picton last week, attended by more than 100 people, half of which had freedom camped.
Speaking after the meeting, ministry tourism system and insights manager Danielle McKenzie stressed a decision had not been made on what the transition period would look like, how long it would run for, or what it would cost.
"We are specifically asking for feedback from the public, industry and councils about what the transitional arrangements [for the proposed rules] should be," she said.
Parliament would ultimately decide what would be in place.
Council chief executive Mark Wheeler said the proposals could trigger minor changes to the region's bylaw, which the council could build on by considering "other changes".
Changing a bylaw that had "significant interest" or impacts required feedback from the public, according to the Local Government Act, which Wheeler said was "challenging".
But the Government could arrange it so that altering freedom camping bylaws was easier for councils, such as by not requiring councils to go through the bylaw process.
"We're aware of the transition proposal. It's something we have to consider. But we're still getting our head around it."
The council would submit on the proposals this week.
Wheeler said the council had not yet determined whether the proposed new rules would impact on its potential court case with the New Zealand Motor Caravan Association.
The association believed the council's decision to close eight of its freedom camping sites and rule vehicles at its remaining five sites be self-contained was "unreasonable".
It was the fourth time the region's bylaw had been redone. Councillors promised changes following a wave of submissions against freedom camping in its annual plan.
Marlborough and Nelson are some of the only regions that require camping vehicles to be self-contained. The Government was looking to widen this scope to include all regions, and make self-containment certifications stricter.
It also hoped to create a self-contained vehicle register.
Those who did not play by the rules could face up to $1000 in fines – up from $200 – or have their vehicle confiscated. Fines could be passed between vehicle owners and rental companies would be required to collect fines from visitors.
The Government hoped the new rules would better protect the environment, remove the "burden" of freedom camping from locals and lift the quality of tourism in New Zealand.
For more information or to make a submission visit www.mbie.govt.nz/freedom-camping-consultation.
The public has until May 16 to submit feedback.